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Reading Reef library opens in Huntington Beach

A member of the H.B. Mermaids speaks during the grand opening for the Reading Reef library at Pacific City.
A member of the H.B. Mermaids speaks during the grand opening for the Reading Reef library at Pacific City in Huntington Beach on Wednesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Katerina Norman enjoys reading to her 3½-year-old daughter, Stella.

Stella has developed quite a vocabulary during the coronavirus pandemic, her mom said.

The Normans live in downtown Huntington Beach, and now can walk to check out a book to read while mom gets some shopping done.

Pacific City opened the Reading Reef, a Little Free Library for children, on Wednesday on Level One of the outdoor mall. Kids can come by the kiosk to check out a book, and are encouraged to leave another book there in return.

“This is a breath of fresh air, literally,” Katerina Norman said. “It’s something that I think is heartwarming, and I think it teaches the kids that you can share. You can give to the community, and this brings us all together. I met a lot of great moms here today.”

The kiosk was painted in an ocean theme by Huntington Beach artist Melissa Murphy. The grand opening included a book reading by local children’s author Kim Ann, and an appearance by the Huntington Beach Mermaids group.

Author Kim Ann reads from one of her children's story books during Wednesday's grand opening for the Reading Reef library.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Colleen Heydon, senior vice president of marketing for Centennial Management, said that the Little Free Library concept is part of the “Centennial Cares” initiative that the company has put out. Centennial is the management company for Pacific City.

“We want to facilitate and activate the common area of our properties in a way that benefits kids and furthers the cause of education,” Heydon said. “We want to be known as making a difference in the lives of the children that are part of this Huntington Beach community.”

Sponsored in part by MemorialCare Medical Group, some of the books in the library were purchased and some were donated by the local community, Pacific City marketing director Jen Williams said.

The mall plans to have a local author read to the children on the last Wednesday of each month, Williams said.

“We know with the hotels close by, the kids don’t typically have a lot of room in their backpacks to be able to have a book while they’re staying here at the beach,” Williams said. “It’s a nice way for them to have a book, read a book and return it.”

The Reading Reef is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed on weekends.

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