Kids burrow into warm fort building at library
Moira Hughes (left), 6, of Hinsdale and Emma LoDuca, 6, of Hinsdale crawl through a door in their cardboard fort which they decorated with stars and mirrors at the HInsdale Public Library Jan. 2. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:27AM
HINSDALE — On the sunny first “business day” of the year last week, the hottest place in Hinsdale on that cold but bright day was the library. In the early afternoon, there was a mini traffic jam as cars lined up to find parking as well as to drop off and pick up.
There were lots and lots of kids, but I followed a bunch of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders downstairs to the Youth Services Department’s second session of Build-A-Fort, an ingenious activity absolutely perfect for a winter day in the middle of a weird holiday week. There librarians Susan Hatch and Tiffany Verzani, assistant library director, had laid out all the materials for their young charges to make somewhat durable forts.
Hatch estimated that the activity required breaking down more than 60 largish cardboard boxes. Some had been cut out to form arches and others cut out to form sawtooth-type parapet walls. There was duct tape in every bright and cheerful color possible from shocking pink and orange to purple, and despite that huge assortment, you could hear someone mutter that there still wasn’t enough duct tape. There was masking tape and all manner of decorations including streamers, as well as cut-out stars and badges.
Kate Duffy, a Hinsdale Central senior, was eagerly helping the boys and girls with their projects. She aspires to become an elementary school teacher, so this kind of arts and crafts, hands-on thing was exactly the sort of thing she likes to do.
Sheerin Fathizadeh, also a Hinsdale Central senior, was volunteering to complete the 40 hours of community service required in her sociology class.
“I like working with kids,” she said. “It’s kind of like babysitting.”
Fathizadeh has also volunteered with the village’s Fall Fest and similar programs. Volunteering, and especially volunteering with kids, has given her a little perspective on what parents have to go through with kids, too, she said. The fort Fathizadeh had helped with rose up two box-lengths, meaning it was like two stories high and featured a turret. At one point she was accordion, pleating the cardboard to make stairs.
Another volunteer, Pat Callahan, a Hinsdale Central junior, said he particular enjoyed the Build-A-Fort activity because he was working with the kids. He was also able to observe that the second group of kids worked together better than the earlier and younger group of first- and second-graders who had come in earlier.
A group of four girls best exemplified that spirit of cooperation. Their fort, when completed, could accommodate three of them inside and featured three tiers of brightly decorated levels. It was displayed for a while in the children’s section of the library.
For more sophisticated tastes, Jan. 12 the Clarendon Hills Public Library, 7 N. Prospect St., hosts Barbara Geiger, Illinois Institute of Technology landscape historian and professor, to talk about the aristocratic way of life portrayed in the runaway hit TV show “Downton Abbey.” She will talk about how inheritance laws and land ownership produced great estates like the fictional Downton. The program starts at 2 p.m. and is free and open to the public though registration is required. Call (630) 323-8188 for more information.