Valley Parents: Librarians Get Ready to ‘Dig Into Reading’
A sleep over for children's stuffed animal friends is part of the summer reading program at Canaan Town Library. Last year, the children's toy companions played a game of Bananagrams after they kids dropped them off for the night. "Who knows what they'll get up to this year?" said librarian Amy Thurber.
Photograph courtesy of Canaan Town Library
Mona Headen, from the show Critters & Creatures, holds Taco, a three-banded armadillo who will be part of a live animal show presented at Cardigan Mountain School in conjunction with Canaan Town Library's summer reading program. The prospect of meeting an armadillo, said librarian Amy Thurber, is just one more incentive to keep kids reading during the summer.
Photograph courtesy of Critters & Creatures
With summer vacation approaching, children are anxious to put the worries of classes and homework behind them. For many youngsters there is the overwhelming “no more pencils, no more books” mentality. Meanwhile, parents there is the worry that two months with too little reading and too much TV and too many video games will make the start of the next school year even more difficult for their children.
Fortunately, local public libraries have come up with ways of assuaging parental concerns: summer reading programs that combine learning with an element of fun.
Librarians throughout the Upper Valley turn to the Collaborative Summer Learning Program (CSLP) to help them gather ideas for their summer reading programs. There is a nation-wide theme each year that libraries can use to help guide them in the creation of their program. This year’s theme is “Dig Into Reading.” The CSLP had a webinar in January with Patti Sinclair, an editor for the summer program educational guidebooks. The webinar was designed to help librarians come up with activities and book ideas for their summer reading programs.
Upper Valley librarians have been working on their individual summer reading programs for several months, and while all of them follows this year’s theme, each one is also unique.
Gardening and Reading in Sharon
The Baxter Memorial Library in Sharon will have a different offering for children of various ages. For preschoolers and their caregivers, Baxter has planned a six-week farm-themed story time. The program runs every other week from June 13-Aug. 18.
Nicole Antal, the librarian at Baxter, said, “We will have stories related to gardening and plant a garden with the kids. For example, the second week, we will talk about seeds, read stories about seeds, then go in the garden, and plant the seeds.”
Each week of the program will focus on different aspects of gardening, such as weeding and soil, seeds and planting, watering and tending the garden.
For the older students, Antal is working with Sharon Elementary School to award prizes to students who participate in the program. There will be rewards for the person who read the most books and the person who invited the most friends to read at the library, among other things. Antal said there also will be a performer who puts on a children’s show based on the “Dig Into Reading” theme.
During the summer, Antal also intends to continue a bilingual story time for children ages 2-5 that she started in the spring. Every second and fourth Saturday of the month, Antal, who speaks French, will read a book in French while a volunteer reads the same book in English. Antal then reads the book to the children entirely in French, and the children go home with a list of French vocabulary words.
Farmers Markets and Story Times in Chelsea
In Chelsea, the summer reading program is tied to a Chelsea tradition, the town’s farmers market, which is held each Friday on the north common.
“I did my program on the fly,” Chelsea Library director Virgil Fuller said. “My biggest goal was to encourage reading.”
While Fuller doesn’t have a designated list of books that he is asking children to read, he certainly doesn’t mind recommending books that will follow this year’s theme. As part of the “Dig Into Reading” theme, Fuller will have children age 5-12 doing crafts, such as decorating shovels and clay flower pots, and there will be prizes for children who participate in the program.
In collaborating with the farmers’ market, Fuller will host a story time each week on the common during market hours. He will start advertising his program at the farmers’ market when it starts on May 17. He has been getting the word out about the program through word-of-mouth, but he will also be advertising in local newspapers and on the library’s Facebook page.
Sleep Overs and Aardvarks in Canaan
The Canaan Public Library will be hosting a summer reading program also following this year’s theme. Designed for children from preschool through 6th grade, the program will allow kids in Canaan to participate in two craft Saturdays, where they will decorate clay pots and plant seeds.
There will also be a stuffed animal sleep over at the end of the summer reading program where kids dress in their pajamas and bring their stuffed animals to the library. The children will do crafts and then read a bedtime story to their stuffed animals before leaving the animals overnight.
“The sleep over is for the stuffed animals,” said Canaan librarian Amy Thurber. The children return the following morning on the last day of the reading program and have an ice cream social. Each child receives a certificate for participating in the program and prizes will be awarded for things such as most books read for children in different levels. In the past, prizes have included coupons for free books at the library’s book sale as well as coupons from local businesses.
But the highlight of the Canaan summer reading program is the presenter who will be at Cardigan Mountain School on July 13. The school allows the children who are participating in the summer reading program to use the space for the presentation, which happens to fall on the same weekend as Parents’ Weekend for Cardigan Mountain School. In keeping with the “Dig Into Reading” theme, children who participate in the summer reading program, as well as Cardigan students and their parents, will get to see a presentation called “Critters and Creatures,” where they will learn about and get to see animals that dig underground.
“I think there’s going to be an aardvark, but I’m not sure what else,” Thurber said. This presentation is made possible by a grant through the State Library of New Hampshire for the Books, Kids and Arts program, which provides grants for public libraries to use to have presenters as part of their individual summer reading programs.