Ashby Ann Reading Circle Time To Become Regular Event
Published: June 1st, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Ashby Ann Reading Circle Time to become regular event City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver read two of his favorite childhood books to local children during Ashby Ann's first ever Reading Circle Time. Ashby Ann Owner Kirsten Vidler-Mackey said she will continue to host the reading circles twice a month. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

NORWICH — Downtown Norwich store Ashby Ann held their first Reading Circle Time on Saturday, and owner Kirsten Vidler-Mackey said she plans to continue hosting the event every month.

A corner of the Ashby Ann store was decorated with a fuzzy carpet and bean bag chairs for the kids to sit and enjoy the stories read by guest reader and City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver.

"I asked Brian if he would do it, and he was so overjoyed to do it. So he’s like, okay what do I need?" said Vidler-Mackey. "I said, I want you to pick two of your favorite childhood books from when you grew up. The two that stand out the most. And then you’ll read one of mine, of course."

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Doliver's selected books included "Curious George Goes Swimming" by Margaret and H.A. Rey, and "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter — both stories he said were read to him as a child.

He also read a copy of "Bun Bun: A Lovey Story" by children's toy company Bunnies by the Bay, which Vidler-Mackey sells in her store.

"I’m obsessed with Bunnies by the Bay," she said. "Everything has a good meaning, it has something good behind it, and that’s what I want to instill in these kids, and that’s why I want to do readings."

Other local businesses got involved in the event as well. The Cottage Bakery supplied mini chocolate chip cookies for the kids to snack on during the reading, and Minty's Candies and Treats provided "Book Worm Baggies" filled with treats for the kids to take home with them.

Vidler-Mackey said she plans to continue holding the readings twice a month, with the goal of providing one reading during the week and one over the weekend.

"I wanted to hit every mom. So during the week for the stay at home moms. So when they call, I’ll have a waiting list for the stay at home moms, the ones that can go during the week," she explained. "And then the ones that can only go during the weekend, so I can get more of those moms in that can only go at that certain time, you know? So that’s what I’m going to do with that."

Reservations are required for scheduled Reading Circle Time events, and can be made by texting or calling 607-316-7758. Vidler-Mackey said approximately ten slots will be available for each event, and anyone who registers after the space is filled will be put on the waiting list for the next reading.

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Additionally, she hopes to feature a guest reader at each event, who will each be given the opportunity to choose a few of their favorite books to share with the kids.

"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," said Vidler-Mackey. "I really want to get to know them, because you can tell a lot about someone by what books they read. And it’s great to get more people giving back to the community, and interacting with our children and enriching them, and saying books are cool again. That’s what I want."

Ultimately, Vidler-Mackey said she simply hopes to bring the joy of reading back into children's lives.

"A lot of parents don’t read to their kids anymore. They don’t, and it’s sad. You know, I know me and my husband are pretty busy. We do not read to our daughter every night, because we get home and it’s already 6:30 and we’re pushing dinner, and we’re pushing bath time, and then going to bed, and it’s like boom, boom, boom," she said. "You don’t take that five minutes to pick up a book and say, okay let’s read. So I want to make that important in children’s lives again, and in our lives too. We need to read more."

Ashby Ann is located at 24 South Broad Street in downtown Norwich. The store sells a wide range of products, including children's toys, clothes, home decor, stationery, food items, and gifts. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.