Parker Berry

Library books will honor toddler

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Parker Berry softball game

A memorial softball tournament was held in Waterbury this weekend to remember Parker Berry. The boy’s father, Josh Berry, is in the foreground; all the players on the team have “Parker” on their uniforms. Money from the tournament will go to Puffer Child Care Center, which Parker attended for two years.

The public libraries in Waterbury and Hyde Park will expand their collections in honor of Hyde Park toddler Parker Berry.

Parker died in February; he wandered away from his day-care group at Elephant in the Field in Waterbury Center and drowned in Thatcher Brook.

A group of parents who had sent their children to Elephant in the Field, which shut down after the drowning, came together to honor the 3-year-old.

“The community just felt bad,” said Elise Werth, program director at the Waterbury Public Library. “We want to keep his spirit alive.”

That’s why the families from Elephant in the Field — the families preferred to speak as a collective — decided they wanted to honor him in some way.

“One thing he enjoyed was books — looking at them and having them read to him,” the families said in a written statement to the Record. “We thought a book donation would be a great way for our families, and the community, to contribute.”

The group raised about $400, which it split evenly between the Waterbury library and Lanpher Memorial Library in Hyde Park.

Amy Olsen, the Hyde Park library director, said Parker and his grandmother were frequent visitors.

Parker’s favorite authors were Dr. Seuss and Mo Willems, and Olsen bought a bunch of books by both.

By Dr. Seuss:

• “The Sneetches and Other Stories”

• “Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories”

• “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?”

• “The Lorax”

• “The Butter Battle Book.”

By Mo Willems:

• “The Duckling Gets a Cookie”

• “The Pigeon Needs a Bath

• “The Pigeon Wants a Puppy”

• “The Thank You Book”

Olsen said Parker liked to play with the magnetic letters and do yoga in the library, too.

“And that’s not something we facilitated, just something he did on his own,” she chuckled. “The library was one of his favorite places.”

Werth said one family from Elephant in the Field is a frequent visitor to the Waterbury library.

That’s what makes the donation so meaningful for the library, she said. As a public service, it’s important that the library be there for the community.

Werth isn’t sure yet exactly which books the Waterbury library will buy, but they should be available to borrow by the end of this month. Each will have a nameplate on the inside cover with Parker’s name.

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