We’re in the thick of summer now, and kids are surely growing more restless by the day. With no school in session, it must be hard to find any educational and fun things for kids to do in the summer, right?
The New Hampshire Historical Society, located right here in Concord on Park Street, offers just the thing to satisfy both needs every Tuesday morning. It’s called Tales of New Hampshire family Story Time, and it is basically exactly what it sounds like.
Every Tuesday through Aug. 29, families can go to the historical society for a story time session with a solid history lesson built in. I stopped by last week with my daughter, Julia, 2, to see what it was all about.
When we walked in a few minutes before the 10 a.m. start time, there were already about a dozen kids sitting nicely on the floor in a semicircle. Mary Morris, one of the museum teachers at the society, greeted us, asked Julia what her name was (she was too shy to respond) and invited all the kids to say hello.
Within the next 5 minutes, another dozen or so kids showed up, making for a pretty big group. Morris asked the kids what month they were born in and had them sit accordingly. Once everybody was seated and situated, it was time for some stories.
The first book was called Stealing Home, the story of Jackie Robinson. It was a kids’ book – short, plenty of illustrations – but it also served as a mini history textbook, touching upon the cultural significance of Robinson’s plight.
Morris mixed in some of her own knowledge while reading the story, such as the tidbit that New Hampshire played a big role in the integration of baseball – the minor league Nashua Dodgers welcomed two African-American players (Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe) in 1946, making it the first professional baseball team in the United States in the 20th century to play with a racially integrated roster. Did you know that? I didn’t.
After the story, it was time for a little game. Four chairs were set up around the room in the shape of a baseball diamond, and kids lined up behind home plate. Morris tossed a ball to whoever was in the front of the line and asked a question about New Hampshire history or Granite State life in general. A correct answer allowed the kid to run to first base. Eventually, everybody (except Julia, who’s still learning her New Hampshire history) answered a question correctly and got to circle the bases.
After the baseball trivia game, Morris read Players in Pigtails, which tells the story of the All-American Girls Baseball League of the 1940s and ’50s, made famous by the movie A League of Their Own. Again, this was a fact-heavy kids’ book that everyone seemed to enjoy.
After the second story, everyone was invited to walk upstairs and poke around among the thousands of historical artifacts the society has collected over the generations.
The free program (thanks to Concord Pediatric Dentistry) is for all ages, though is geared mostly to those ages 3 to 8 – at 2, Julia didn’t get a whole lot out of the experience. For more information, go to nhhistory.org.