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Be Grandkid Ready with Grandkits

Grandparents never again have to worry about entertaining their visiting grandchildren thanks to Grandkits, an idea Westport children's librarian Candace Herbst came up with two years ago.

Grandkits are custom-made kits filled with books, toys, games, crafts, DVDs and CDs. Like almost everything else at the library, Grandkits can be checked out for three weeks.

"We had a lot of grandparents coming in and asking for our advice on what they can do to help keep their grandkids occupied," Herbst said. "So I thought, 'Why not have a kit for [grandparents] that's filled with things their grandkids like?'"

Herbst said she based the idea of Grandkits on Kids Travel Kits, a popular service the library offers. But unlike the travel kits, which are filled with items based on a family's travel destination, Grandkits are filled with items based on a child's age and interests.

If you're interested in having a Grandkit made, Deborah White, another children's librarian, said the grandparent starts by supplying information such as name, contact information and when the grandchild is visiting.

"They can call us with this information, email us or walk in and fill out a form," White said.

The next step includes an interview with the grandparent.

"We find out as much as we can about the child and their interests so we can pull material that's tailored to them," White said. "We also ask them what, if any, plans they've made with the kids, like if they plan on taking them to the beach or to an amusement park. This way, we can add material that relates to those activities as well."

Grandkits can also come in handy when you visit your grandchildren.

"Grandkits have been enormously successful," White said. "Grandparents like being able to have a whole bunch of fun things available for when their grandchildren come visit."

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