What do a typical dish from Tanzania, traditional dancing from Laos and intricate henna tattoos from Pakistan have in common? Why, reading, of course.
The exhibit "Children Just Like Me Everywhere," which featured all that and more, opened in style Saturday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. The idea was to attract kids to register for the library's summer program, said Miriam Lytle, the library's community service and program development division chief.
Much of the event took part outside, with entertainment on a stage and booths under a tent. The actual exhibit is inside the library and features 11 stations where patrons can learn about kids from 11 different parts of the world, including Egypt, India, Australia and Mexico.
Urandari and Kherlen Galsan of Hoffman Estates said they were delighted to find references to their native Mongolia, including drawings of Mongolian eagle hunters. The couple came with their 8-year-old daughter, who beaded an elaborate necklace at one of the craft stations.
Elgin resident Donald Neff decided to try out a henna tattoo from Pakistan, so he had one done on the inside of his right hand.
"I think it's really good way to get everyone in the community to see different cultures," said Neff, whose 5-year-old granddaughter is enrolled in the summer reading program.
This year's theme for the summer reading program is "Reading is So Delicious," so Saturday's event also featured samplings of Polish borscht, plus feijoada, a stew of beef, pork, and beans found in Portugal and Brazil, and a flatbread with spinach and nuts dish typical of Tanzania. All were prepared by Jeff Turner, owner of In the Neighborhood Deli & Cafe in Elgin.
Christine Gallup of Hoffman Estates said she's a big fan of Gail Borden's summer reading program, and enrolled her children Natalie, 7, and Isaac, 3, for the second year in a row.
"They do a fantastic job at this library with all the things that they do for the kids," she said. "It helps the kids to keep their brains engaged between the end of the school year and the start of the next school year."
Registration for the summer reading program continues through July 15. For more information, visit gailborden.info or call (847) 742-2411.