Ashby Ann Hosting First Reading Circle Time Event
Published: May 25th, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Ashby Ann hosting first Reading Circle Time event Small business Ashby Ann will be holding a Reading Circle Time event on Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m., at 24 South Broad Street. City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver will be reading three books to the kids, and sweet treats will be provided by The Cottage Bakery and Minty's Candies and Treats. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

NORWICH — Newly established small business Ashby Ann will be hosting their first ever Reading Circle Time event on Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m., featuring the City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver as the guest reader.

"It’s too fast paced now, where the parents aren’t slowing down and taking the time to really enjoy that one on one with their children, to start reading, and that's why I want to start bringing this in," said Ashby Ann Owner Kirstin Vidler-Mackey. "We need to start enriching their minds, instead of just sitting them in front of the TV."

Vidler-Mackey said a space in the store will be designated for Circle Time, complete with bean bag chairs for the kids. Mayor Doliver will read two of his favorite books from childhood, as well as one of Vidler-Mackey's books available for purchase in her shop.

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"It’s in a good environment, the parents don’t have to sit right here with their kids, they can kind of shop and do their own thing," she added. "Then every time that we do a reading it’s going to be a cool guest speaker. You know, whether it be the mayor, or the CEO of the bank, or whomever."

The event is completely free of charge, but space is limited and reservations are required in advance. To reserve a spot, call or text 607-316-7758.

After registration fills for this weekend's event, Vidler-Mackey said she will begin a waiting list for future Circle Times.

"People will have to call and do reservations, which is great because I can’t have 60 kids in here, obviously. So it’ll be like 20 to 25 slots," said Vidler-Mackey. "But you call, you get put on the list. The first 25 of course I’m taking, and then after that the waiting list, and it just keeps moving forward."

Other local businesses are also getting in on the fun. Vidler-Mackey said Minty's Candies and Treats and The Cottage Bakery are both providing sweet treats for the kids to enjoy while they listen to the book reading.

"I mentioned it to Cottage Bakery and I mentioned it to Minty’s, because I’m very good friends with all of them, and I’m like guys, I thought about this idea and I want cookies and I want candy to give out to the kids," she explained. "Cottage Bakery is going to do mini cookies for me, mini chocolate chip cookies, and I’ll have little waters here for the kids. And then Minty’s is going to do little ‘Bookworm Baggies.’ I’m so excited, it's going to be so good."

Vidler-Mackey said she hopes Circle Time will not only encourage reading in children, but also foster connections between parents in the area.

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"It’s a good way for moms to network and meet other moms and talk, because they can go around and talk to other moms and stuff while we’re sitting there kind of entertaining their kids," she said. "So I think this will bring it outside that box and make us kind of unite a little bit more. Because moms are cool too, we can have fun too."

Although this is the first Reading Circle Time hosted by Ashby Ann, Vidler-Mackey said it is just the beginning, as she hopes to make the event a regular occurrence in her store.

"I want to start doing it probably twice a month: one in the week, one during the weekend. And then eventually it might turn into a weekly thing. I might have that much of a call for it to do it as a weekly thing, and that would be awesome. To do something weekly for the kids would be phenomenal," said Vidler-Mackey. "I want to make that important in children’s lives again, and in our lives too. We need to read more."