Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY
They had no musical training or opportunities to rehearse together, but a group of 11-year-olds got together Monday night at the Ponte Vedra Beach branch library and instantly formed a rock band.
With Taylor Fleming on guitar, Ilana Newman on drums and Fabienne Voegeli and Sophie Newman singing, they performed a few Beatles songs, beginning with "Can't Buy Me Love."
Thanks to the video game "Rock Band" Beatles edition, all the lyrics were right there in front of them on a large TV screen, and color-coded instructions on the screen and the instruments turned them into instant rock stars.
Nearby, another group of teens and preteens with wireless controllers played the video game "Super Smash Bros.," which was projected on a large screen in the community room.
"I like having kids ages 11 to 18 from different schools and different neighborhoods here," youth services librarian Anne Crawford said. "This is very much a collaborative effort in the sense that they help set up the equipment and play together. It's a good experience for them; it's fun."
Crawford said the library hosts a teen video game night the second Monday of every month to promote the idea that the library is a fun place. The library provides the equipment and an assortment of video games, and kids can bring their own to share.
The 5 to 7 p.m. event is run by teen volunteers under Crawford's supervision, and during the past school year members of the Ponte Vedra High School Book Club helped host it.
This summer, Sabina Escalada, an employee at Game Stop in Jacksonville Beach, is a volunteer co-host, bringing games, expertise and prizes.
Monday, she brought an assortment of free posters, and some games rated "E" for "Everyone," including "Mario Kart," "Wii Sports Resort" and "Rayman Raving Rabbids."
"These are some of the most popular games," Escalada said as kids gathered around to see what she'd brought.
Video games are rated by how appropriate they are for various age groups. Many teen group participants have their own games at home, but during library game nights, only E-rated ones are permitted.
Crawford purchased "Super Smash Bros." with funds from the Friends of the Library support group, because it was recommended by a teen, she said.
While libraries are traditionally places to go for books, playing video games sometimes encourages teens to read.
Many video game systems have fan magazines, which teens love, Crawford said. While they're at the library, they can check out magazines, books, movies and music CDs.
If playing the Beatles rock band video game spurs kids to want to learn more about the '60s legends, they can check out CDs of their music, Crawford said. …