McDONOUGH — In a room separate from where all the books are shelved at Fairview Library, the swishing sound of water could be heard echoing down the hallway.
It was followed by children’s laughter and the voice of a woman with a thick British accent.
“Mr. Oglethorpe said we should be ready to set sail tomorrow,” the voice said excitedly.
The voice was that of Dr. Annette Laing, creator of children’s history programs.
Laing was taking kids through a lesson of what it was like for early settlers sailing from London to Georgia in 1735.
“Mr. Oglethorpe assures me we’ll be leaving in another day,” Laing said to the kids.
As the group “sailed” from the coast of England crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Laing taught them about what the new colonists would do to stay busy during the long journey to the new America.
They got to experience for themselves toys children of the 1730s played with — games like a hoop and stick and skittles, similar to bowling.
Laing’s visit was a result of a grant from the Georgia Humanities Council. She holds a Ph.D. in early American and British history and is the author of “The Snipesville Chronicles.”
“We do things like this to get our kids interested in the library, books and literature,” said Tracy Ralston, children’s coordinator and specialist with the Henry County Library. “It gets them wanting to come back to the library and learn.”
Rochan Richardson is an example of what Ralston tries to do with the library’s young visitors. Now 14, Richardson has been visiting the library since he was about 6.
“I’ve always like to read,” he said. “When I do I get a picture in my mind like a movie.”
He attends many of the youth actives offered at the library and volunteers doing things like shelving books.
The rising ninth grader at Hampton High said he encourages his friends to “drop by and hang out with him at the library.”
“I love everything we do here,” he said.
The Henry County Library System has dozens of free program for children, teens and adults at its five branches.
Each offers free Internet and computer usage with access to hundreds of programs like Comics Plus, Mango Languages, GALILEO, the Georgia Library Learning Online and ArtistWorks.
“It’s not just about books anymore,” Ralston said.
The following is a list of the Henry County branches:
• McDonough Public Library, 1001 Florence McGarity Blvd. in McDonough. It’s open Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 678-432-5353, option 6.
• Cochran Public Library, 174 Burke St. in Stockbridge. It’s open Monday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 678-432-5353, option 7.
• Fortson Public Library, 61 McDonough St. in Hampton. It’s open Monday and Thursday from noon until 8 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, call 770-288-7233.
• Locust Grove Public Library, 115 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Locust Grove. The library is open Monday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 678-432-5353, option 4.
• Fairview Public Library, 28 Austin Road in Stockbridge. The library is open Monday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 678-432-5353, option 3.
To see a full schedule of classes, visit www.henry.public.lib.ga.us.