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Events & Community Involvement

Tails and Tales – Area Libraries Ramping Up for Summer Reading 2021

April 26, 2021


Pictured: Moline Librarian Diane Cucar and Library Board Secretary Sally Morgan

SKT Distributes Canvas Bags & Markers to Encourage Readers and Enhance Programs

Hundreds of kids in SKT’s service area will participate in Summer Reading Programs, led by small-town libraries and their dedicated staff. Researchers have known for decades that kids lose significant knowledge in reading over summer break, and these programs positively impact retention and continue development of children’s reading skills. This can bridge the summer break, resulting in positive reading achievement outcomes when children go back to school in the fall.

Many libraries use resources and ideas from the Collaborative Summer Library Program. Their programs help prepare young children for success by building reading and language skills, motivate teens to read and discuss literature, and encourage adults to experience the joy of reading.

In mid-April, SKT delivered a total of 450 canvas bags and about 500 colorful markers to area libraries sponsoring reading programs and events this summer. SKT chose to utilize a design from the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s 2020/2021 theme, “Tails and Tales,” on the canvas bags. The graphic features a lion with a mouse on his head, both of whom are engrossed in an open book. There’s also a stack of seven more books right beside them. Using the markers, summer reading participants will be able to color the lion, mouse, and stack of books, plus write their names in the space provided – personalizing their bags. The bags promise to be fun to color!

Area libraries and community organizations are sponsoring summer reading programs in Belle Plaine, Cedar Vale, Clearwater, Dexter (at the Farmers Market), Grenola, Howard, Leon, Longton, Moline, and Viola. Be sure to check out the library in your area and take advantage of their summer reading program.

Jeana Bender, Library Director, says she usually has over 30 children register for the summer reading program at the Viola Township Library, located at 100 N. Grice St., in Viola, Kan. This year, they’ll be meeting on Thursday mornings at 9:30 a.m. June 3 through July 8. Bender says, “We work with all ages. In the past, we’ve run it kind of like a one-room-school, multi-age program; if we’ve had an activity that’s a little challenging, the bigger kids kind of lead the way and help out. We usually try to focus on more hands-on type, educational activities and crafts, with the older ones able to put more detail in, but the younger ones able to do them also. Some parents will drop their kids off, but most parents stay and help out – do it as a ‘Mom and me’ kind of thing … whoever’s there, we just kind of put them to work: ‘can you pass these out’ … ‘can you help cut these’?”

Using the Collaborative Summer Library Program as a springboard, the Viola Township Library has offered summer reading since at least 2004. As a parent, Bender, who lives in Conway Springs, first brought her two little girls to the Viola Township Library and to its programs. As time went on, she was asked to sub, then eventually did more and more of the hours as the then-library director transitioned into retirement. That was in 2013. This summer, two of her helpers for summer reading will be those same two daughters (who used to attend that very program) – and are now teenagers!

After having everything shut down and restricted last year, this year’s summer reading promises to be interesting, Bender shares. They usually meet for an hour and a half but may meet for a shorter time than in the past. Bender explains, “Looking at the pandemic situation, we’re going to try to incorporate more outdoor activities, some kind of ‘make and take’ activities, and also some things they can do at home. Our ending time will probably be sort of open-ended; the part we do together will be about 45 minutes – and then, individually, if they want to, they can stay a little longer.”  Viola Township Library will also be offering some online options, as well, including activities that summer readers can do on their own, and stories they can enjoy listening to – both at home.

Bender’s favorite thing about summer reading is that’s when she sees the most kids in the library – it’s a real draw for them. She adds, “We just have a lot of fun – seeing them and trying to help them with reading material, and just having a good time together.” As for the bags and markers donated by SKT, she says, “They are so cool! I think that they’re such a fun, personalized accessory to be able to take books home in to read. When you have your very own personally-decorated bag, it’s a good inspiration to fill it up with some good books!”

Bender is optimistic. “COVID-19 has been really disruptive and a lot of times we’ve looked at it as messing up our normal routine and our normal activities we enjoy, but I think it’s kind of accidentally ended up creating an opportunity for us to re-evaluate different programs and really pushed us to be creative in what we’re offering. So, I think that in the end, we’re going to see some good, unexpected benefits from COVID, as well. You have to kind of evaluate your purpose:  ‘Why do I do these programs?’; ‘How’s a different way I can accomplish that?’ … try some new things that you’ve maybe thought about for a while, but now that we’re in a situation where, ‘okay, we’re going to have to do that online thing that we’ve been thinking about for the last two years’ – that stretches it,” she reflects.

SKT is proud to be able to provide complimentary internet and managed Wi-Fi services to the Viola Township Library to help with their outreach. Be sure to check out their Book Place Facebook Page for more information on summer reading and all the programs offered at the Viola Township Library. Stop in and register for this year’s summer reading program any time after May 20.

Viola Township Library
100 N. Grice St.
Viola, KS  67149

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Open Mondays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. & Thursdays 9 a.m. to noon & 1-5 p.m.