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Library Program Takes Children Across the Globe

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- A group of fourth and fifth grade girls got to experience African life Wednesday at the Bedford Free Library and the experience wasn’t just limited to the intensely hot weather, which was almost reminiscent of the Saharan desert.

The girls got to play African games, eat food from the region and learn a little bit of the language during the library’s “Wander the World” program. The program, which is being done in conjunction with the New York City library system’s “One World, Many Stories” summer reading program, is aimed at introducing different cultures to children.

Programs are constructed to appeal to children ages 3 to 5, students in grades 1 to 3 and student in grades 4 to 5. So far, the program has covered the Netherlands, Latin America and Africa. The last two programs will cover Mediterranean counties and Asia.

“You try and do something that will interest the kids that you are working with,” said Shodie Alcorn.

For instance, the younger kids were introduced to snacks like nuts and bananas as a way to introduce them to the dietary habits in Africa. The older kids were given a chin chin, a fried pastry dish served in West Africa.

Alcorn said the programs for the younger kids draw eight to 10 kids each week, while programs for fourth and fifth graders draws about five to 10 people.

Alcorn and Gabrielle Burns, a volunteer who works with the library, sit down each week and map out props and activities that the kids can play each week.

“It’s a bit of work,” Burns said. “The Internet is a great help. We try to be as authentic as possible.”

As part of Wednesday’s workshop, the girls learned a few Afrikaan words, made African wire crafts and played an African board game called Mancala.

Eden Wilson, 9, said she enjoyed the workshops.

“It’s fun because i get to be with all my friends,” she said. “My favorite part is probably the crafts.

The library is hosting two more workshops. For more information go to the library website here or call 914-234-3570.

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