Kids learn about llamas at Sunderland library

  • Caliandra Dempsey, of Holyoke, hugs Jack the llama during his visit to the Sunderland public library on Saturday. GREENFIELD RECORDER

  • Caliandra Dempsey, of Holyoke, hugs Jack the llama during his visit to the Sunderland public library on Saturday. 

  • Children gather around Jack the llama, who visited the Sunderland public library on Saturday

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

SUNDERLAND — A llama assisted the Sunderland Public Library on a mission to get children excited about reading.

Debbie Labbe and her 8-year-old llama named Jack paid a visit to the library Saturday, where she taught children facts about llamas and library director Katherine Hand read “Llama Llama Red Pajama” to the crowd. The kids then got to pet the llama and were able to ask questions.

Karen Green, from a Coordinated Family and Community Engagement (CFCE) outreach program, co-organized the event with the Sunderland Public Library. Green said the two groups work together on events as a way to increase family programming at the library.

“Animals are a fabulous way to reach out to kids,” Green said.

She said the library and CFCE try to have weekend programs for working parents who may not be able to attend on weekdays.

Kids learned about what llamas eat, where they come from and what uses they have for farmers. Labbe showed the group pictures of her other llamas and showed them examples of items made with llama fiber.

Labbe runs a farm with five llamas in Connecticut and travels to schools and libraries across the area to teach kids about llamas and farm animals. Her and Jack don’t use a horse trailer, but instead Jack travels by minivan. Labbe said the seats fold into the floor and Jack sits down, so it’s essentially like riding with a large dog.

About 40 kids and their parents attended the event, which was held in conjunction with the library’s annual book sale.

Hand, the library’s director, said the events coincide nicely and serve as a way to show families different offerings of the library. She said if a family just knew about the book sale, they might also stumble onto the llama event and vice versa.

Kids who attended Saturday’s program could also make llama masks out of paper plates and cotton balls.

Parents who brought their kids said the event is another in a long line of exemplary free programming offered at the library.

Caitlyn Rock, who brought her twin daughters Maggie and Corrina to the event, said it’s a reflection of how tied the library is to the community.

“The children’s librarian works so hard to have free community events,” Rock said. “The girls love it and see all of their friends here.”

Reach Miranda Davis at 413-771-0261, ext. 280 or mdavis@recorder.com.