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Community Feature

Area Youth “Dive” into Books with Library Summer Reading Programs

June 8, 2022

2022 06 Skt Photo Gallery June 2022 Area Libraries1 1

It’s O-FISH-ally summer and a wonderful time to dive into great adventures! Adventures that could have you walking the plank, searching for treasure, exploring ocean life, and more because there are “Oceans of Possibilities” waiting when reading.

“Oceans of Possibilities” is this year’s theme that many libraries are using for their summer reading program. The program helps bridge the gap between the time school ends in May and starts again in fall for continued learning in a fun and exciting way. Summer reading programs help nurture life-long reading habits, motivate people of all ages to read for fun, and bring people together, encouraging interaction while providing an alternative summer activity.

In mid-May, together SKT and Twin Valley delivered 1,325 canvas bags and 63 packages of colorful markers to 17 libraries hosting reading programs and events this summer. SKT chose to build on the “Oceans of Possibilities” theme, an idea from the Collaborative Summer Library Program used as a resource by many libraries, for the canvas bag design. The graphic features a jellyfish with a girl perched on top reading a book as well as a boy riding a seahorse. An angelfish as well as a hermit crab, clam shell, and other fish complete the design. Summer reading participants can add their own artistic touch using the markers to add color and even write their name or initials in the space provided – just another way to personalize their bags. The bags, which librarians and others alike were excited to receive, promise to be fun to color.

Area libraries offer various summer reading activities for ages ranging from preschool to adult. Not sure where the library is nearest you? You can pick up the perfect book or access online resources in Belle Plaine, Cedar Vale, Clearwater, Grenola, Howard, Leon, Longton, Moline, and Viola. For those living in or around the Grenola area, Grenola Public Library Director Tina Fullhart said she and Moline Public Library Director Diane Cucar have come together this summer and created a variety of enjoyable and action-packed activities geared to grade school age children with the goal of “making all sessions enjoyable for kids of all ages.”

Though many of the summer reading activities began right after school ended, library directors and coordinators have echoed the same sentiment, “everyone is welcome” so find the library nearest to you and get hooked on reading. There’s something for everyone.

“We kicked off our summer with Library Day at the School with Tanganyika to You Program May 3,” explained Diane. “This program was made to help build up the excitement for Summer Reading. We were very excited to have over 350 people attend with other fellow county libraries: Howard City Library and Grenola Public Library at West Elk’s Gym. We were thrilled that it was open to the community and that Longton grade school, preschool and day care also joined in on the fun! They got to learn about several animals from Tanganyika’s outreach education program though the consensus was that the penguin was the favorite!”

Diane also shared more details on upcoming activities. “We will have all sorts of fun activities this summer. We will be learning about the ocean depths, learning about some favorite ocean animals like jellyfish and sharks. We will do fun science experiments to learn about a shark’s smelling ability and how they float in the water. Then, we will do scavenger hunts and make our own treasure chests during Pirate week. We will then learn about ocean mythology with mermaids, krakens, and kelpies! Kids will also get hands on learning by baking ocean shaped cookies and decorating them thus, allowing them to learn through multiple means while learning a life skill!”

Exciting things are happening at the Belle Plaine Library too. Director Amber Warne, who planned for 80 program participants this summer, shared they are “are offering many ocean-themed activities including themed movie nights, a pool day, a kids’ music show, story times, as well as adult and teen crafts.”

While all those activities are sure to be hit, there’s one event Amber expects to really draw a crowd.

“The event I’m most looking forward to is our ‘Love on a Leash’ day at the park, where kids can come to read our ocean-themed books to therapy dogs,” explained Amber with enthusiasm. “Last year, our numbers were still struggling due to the coronavirus, but we expect a bigger turnout this year. We already have many people flocking to the library to sign up.”

As for the canvas bags, Amber added, “Last year kids LOVED the bag design with the lion – it was a big hit! Parents also loved them. The bags were heavily used last year to bring home tons of books. And this year, I’ve already had a lot of people praising the design of the bags, with several patrons excitedly coloring their bags before even leaving the library. We’re excited that the bags this year have a fold style at the bottom to allow them to expand and accommodate even more books!”

Some area libraries are also adding more activities to their jam-packed schedules and recommend that anyone interested in the summer reading program follow their Facebook page and be on the lookout for updates in June and July.

Be sure to check out the library in your area or make it a day trip to one nearby for a summer reading program that you can dive into!