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Summer program makes reading fun

August 12, 2009
They say reading is fun. For area children this summer, it was really fun.

The summer programs at the Crawford County Public Library in English and its Leavenworth satellite, Breeden Memorial Library, gave youngsters plenty to ooh and ahh about. From learning about landscaping, music and body art to self portraiture, puppets and butterfly symmetry, there were plenty of free and, more important, fun things to do at the libraries during summer break.

"They love it," Sherry Fow of Milltown said of her children during the end-of-summer World Party event at BML on July 23.

Helping her 5-year-old son, Nicholas, make a Brazilian carnival mask, Fow said the library is a wonderful place for children year-round.

"He was actually here when school was in session," she said, referring to the storytime program for preschool-age children.

The real prize for children at BML this summer, however, was the Reading Rewards Program. Youths who read 10 chapters or 10 picture books were able to enter their name in a drawing for various prizes donated by several businesses. The most popular were tickets to Holiday World & Splashin' Safari.

Besides the big rewards at the end of the program, many businesses donated smaller items, such as coupons for cookies and other goodies, to be given to children throughout the summer.

"Just a little something extra for them each week," BML branch manager Sharon Harvey said.

Plus, young readers at both libraries were able to earn cash for their efforts thanks to Community First Bank. Children received $1 in a savings account for every two books they read, up to $10.

"It was wonderful," Catherine Ramsey, library director, said. "Just combining the concept of saving with planning and information."

Harvey said one woman told her the summer program at the library encouraged her daughter to "read 10 times more than what she would have read otherwise."

To further encourage reading beyond the summer, children received books courtesy of the Friends of the Library. At BML, young people received the books as part of their reward for reading. At the English library, they received books for attending. In addition, Ramsey said, she gives a book to each child who signs up for a free library card.

Besides inspiring children to read, the programs at the libraries — the statewide theme was "Be Creative @ the Library" — focused on expanding children's experiences.

At BML, children enjoyed a "Midsummer Fair," where children made windsocks and played with bubbles and sidewalk chalk; "Patriot Day," where they got an up-close look at the Abraham Lincoln Flatboat Trip Exhibit courtesy of the Spencer County Lincoln Parks, made pop-stick flags, patriotic bird feeders and Uncle Sam stilts; and a "World Party" that featured the celebrations of various cultures, including the Chinese New Year and Brazil's Carnival.

The summer calendar also was full at the main library in English, as children had fun with puppets, writing and drawing, among many other things. Children at both libraries enjoyed visits from the Bubble Truck and the Piankeshaw Trails Education Program, when they learned about native life in Indiana.

In addition, BML offered other programs, including "Art with Abby," a hands-on art class taught by librarian assistant Abby Taylor, and "Spanish with Morgan," small-group tutoring sessions led by 15-year-old volunteer Morgan Mohr.

Ramsey said the libraries, which offer children's programs throughout the year, with the annual Dr. Seuss Birthday celebration being the most popular at the English library, are filling a void, as elementary schools have had to cut art and music programs be-cause of finances.

"We cater to the kids," Harvey said of BML, which also offers a movie night and writing group.

"We want them here. Whether they're on the computer or playing with the toys in the back, we want them here."

In total, 624 children and 383 adults have participated in BML programs this summer, Harvey said, praising her staff, including children's librarian Tina Brison, and several volunteers.

Ramsey said the libraries have 5,001 cardholders, including 1,244 children and young adults. Together, the libraries have a collection of 198,710 items. Of those, 14,093 are for children and 14,662 are for young adults, she said.

In 2009 alone, the libraries have purchased 306 items and received 2,097 donations, Ramsey said.

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