A different kind of bookworm

Liza Purdy, a children's librarian at the Old Town Newhall Library, conducts a worm feeding as part of an interactive activity designed to teach kids about science. March 10, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.
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A throng of young children huddled around a box of dirt, eagerly digging for buried treasure. As the first child finally strikes paydirt, the others erupt in a chorus.

 “Worms!”

Every Tuesday, Liza Purdy, a children’s librarian at the Newhall Library, wheels out a box of about 50 to 100 red wiggler worms for children at the library to touch and feed with composted materials like celery, coffee grounds and avocado peel.

“This activity is mostly just a quick, experiential activity and I teach them things like why worms are beneficial to a garden,” Purdy said. “I love books, I’m a librarian, but there’s nothing like getting in there to touch and smell what that dirt and worm are like. It’s a fun way to expand what kids know about the world under their feet.”

Children participate in a worm feeding as part of an interactive activity at the Old Town Newhall Library designed to teach kids about science. March 10, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Purdy, who is passionate about recycling and gardening, first implemented her worm feeding program last spring and got the idea from a previous library she worked at. From the very first feeding session, the kids in the library were hooked. 

“When I started this at the Canyon Country library we had a garden club about once a month and I had the worms out for an hour and a half and the kids played with them the entire time,” Purdy said. “My favorite thing to teach the kids is that the soil we keep them in is worm poop. The boys love that.”

Alexa Diaz and her nephew Ezequiel Morenos discovered the worm feeding as they were walking through the library. Diaz said the program is a lot more interactive than library programs when she was growing up and she appreciated how it gets kids to learn more about the environment.

“I’d never played with worms before and I thought it would be weird, but it wasn’t, just ticklish,” Ezequiel said. “I want to get a pet worm now.”

Kanwal Sheikh and her daughter Jannat have been part of the worm feeding every week since January.

“It’s good for the kids to learn about nature and how the worms deal with the world around them so this is a really good activity and break from doing homework at the library,” Kanwal said. “My daughter loved it so much that I started to bring my nephews to the worm feeding.”

“I like the worms because they’re soft, ticklish and fun,” Jannat said. “My favorite part is feeding them and I learned how important they are.”

Evidently the program is making an impression on the children. As one boy left the library he turned to the worm bin and said, “Goodbye wormies!”

The worm feeding sessions take place every Tuesday at the Old Town Newhall Library at approximately 4:50 p.m.

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