Books and Battles offers local teens opportunity to adventure

Marissa Thompson, teen librarian at the Old Town Newhall Library, poses with a Dungeons & Dragons guidebook and some dice. Matt Fernandez/ The Signal

Santa Clarita teens looking for new worlds to explore can travel to fantasy lands and embark on new adventures courtesy of the Santa Clarita Library.

Books & Battles is the library’s tabletop gaming program for teens, which teaches participants how to play games like “Dungeons & Dragons.” Originally developed at the Canyon Country branch, the program has spread to all branches due to public interest. However, during the summer months, the Old Town Newhall Library is the only branch that plays.

The Newhall library began its Books and Battles in July by playing through the new official “Stranger Things”-themed campaign to coincide with the release of the show’s third season. The players responded so positively the library decided to make Books & Battles a permanent program.

“We have a member of our library staff running the campaign as the dungeon master and the teens who come will get to create characters and role play as them,” said Marissa Thompson, teen librarian for the Newhall library. “While it may seem intimidating at first, the more you play, the easier it is going to be — and all our sessions are friendly for players of all levels. Shows like ‘Stranger Things’ and podcasts have brought D&D back into the limelight, and you can see a lot of kids playing the game now.”

On Aug. 26, the library will host a session for teens to learn how to play “Dungeons & Dragons,” how to create characters and paint miniature figures in anticipation of a new campaign beginning on Sept. 23. Outside of just running the game, Thompson said she has other activities planned for participants like creating drawstring bags for their dice and felt dice trays.

“We really love to give teens the opportunity to craft and be creative, to use their hands and imaginations to make things they never learned how to make before or might not be able to do at home,” Thompson said.

McCade Campbell took part in the “Stranger Things” campaign and said he had never played “Dungeons & Dragons” before but really enjoyed his first experience.

“I walked into the library and people invited me over to play, so I hopped in and it was a lot of fun,” Campbell said. “I have a lot of friends who play the game, so I kind of had an idea of what to expect, but even then it was a lot more immersive and friendly than I thought it would be.”

Books & Battles is hosted at the Old Town Newhall Library every first and third Monday of the month at 3:30 p.m.

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