EPWORTH, Iowa — Will and Nick Reuter have passed many hours playing tic-tac-toe in their Epworth home.
On Wednesday, the brothers had the opportunity to test their wits in a far different kind of setting.
The Reuters placed large cardboard X’s and O’s within a spray-painted tic-tac-toe board outside the Epworth branch of the Dubuque County Library District.
Will, 8, expressed a sense of wonderment as he competed against Nick, 6.
“We’ve played this before, but this is so much bigger,” Will said emphatically. “This is giant tic-tac-toe.”
The Reuters’ showdown was part of the inaugural Life-Sized Games event, hosted by the Dubuque County Library system. Library officials put a different twist on a variety of games, including Battleship, Yahtzee and Chutes and Ladders.
In the Battleship reboot, kids lobbed balls at each other over a makeshift net. Yahtzee featured large inflatable dice, tossed about by strong gusts of wind.
For the Chutes and Ladders game, participants navigated a course that had been painted on the side of a hill. Once they reached a “chute,” they were required to descend a nearby slip-and-slide.
Kayla Ferguson, children’s librarian for the Dubuque County system, hopes the event gave kids a chance to experience traditional games in a unique setting.
“It’s something to get the kids outdoors so they are not spending their summer on the computers or devices,” she said.
Ferguson said she gathered ideas for Wednesday’s games by conducting research on social media site Pinterest and borrowing ideas utilized at other libraries.
About 15 kids attended Wednesday’s event, which is loosely tied to the library’s summer reading program.
Ferguson said the interaction between the youngsters is part of the gathering’s appeal.
“That social aspect is so important,” Ferguson said. “Libraries are one of the few places in society where you can still gather but you are not expected to buy anything.”
Parents looked on as their kids enjoyed the unique games. Nicole Reuter, a teacher who spends her summer days with her kids, expressed appreciation for the library’s wide selection of events.
“It can get difficult finding something new to do every day,” she said. “It is nice that they offer these activities.”
Stephanie Quinn, of Farley, said she and her kids — Hunter, 7, and Willow, 5 — frequently attend library-hosted events.
“We have been doing events like this for years, and this is the most fun one so far,” she said. “My kids were excited about coming to this all day. It makes the library more fun and helps them want to read.”
Boasting a wide smile, Willow confirmed that the Life-Sized Games activities were not your typical library fare.
“I really liked the part where I went down the slide,” she said.