THE SUMMER session of the Enoch Pratt Free Library's program A Family Place will begin this week at the Brooklyn branch, 300 E. Patapsco Ave.
A Family Place is a five-week program that promotes parent-child interaction and child development. It is sponsored by Libraries for the Future, a nationwide nonprofit library advocacy group.
The program, which begins Saturday, was introduced to the Pratt system in 1998 at the Brooklyn and Cherry Hill branches and became so successful that the Pratt now offers the program at its Central Library and at eight community libraries.
There is a choice of sessions at Brooklyn - one meeting from 10:30 a.m. to noon Thursdays, the other from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays.
The branch's part-time children's librarian, Gloria Bartas, said the popularity of the program has grown since it was first offered. "Word has traveled by word of mouth," she said, adding that invitations were sent to families that participate in the branch's other children's programs.
"Some families can't come during the week. We offered a Saturday program in March and we had a good turnout. Saturday is a family day, and the dads have started coming on Saturday," Bartas said - and she noted that one person asked to attend both sessions. "I told them of course they could."
Each meeting addresses a specific topic of interest to families with children ages 1 to 4, including child development, speech, language, reading readiness, play, nutrition, physical movement and library services.
Speakers will include Barbara Neff, a speech pathologist from Loyola College; Wendy Walker, director of the Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center; and Judith Castor, coordinator of volunteer services at Harbor Hospital Center.
Bartas said the free program benefits all members of the family.
"The children get to interact with other children their own age and get used to being around each other. The best thing is to see parents interacting with their children and getting information from the other parents. They really learn from each other about schools, day care and local physicians. It's a nice exchange of information.
"And as the children grow, they get to know the library as a place where they can go to read or get a toy, but also as a place that is important to the community," she said.
Anne Arundel County was once known as the strawberry capital of the nation. In fact, the strawberry bush is native to the area.
It seems they grow like weeds around here. I planted a strawberry patch in my back yard 10 years ago. Now, despite my best lawn-mowing attempts to cut them down, the strawberries keep popping up everywhere.
But some celebrate them.
St. John Lutheran Church's Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church will celebrate the area's strawberry history from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at its annual strawberry festival.
It will include a luncheon menu of hot dogs, chicken breast, red-skin potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw. And don't forget the array of strawberry desserts that will be available.
St. John is at 226 Washburn Ave. in Brooklyn. Information: 410-355-7295.