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“I’m Bored!!” was not heard by at least 2,300 children and teens this summer since they participated in reading and Wacky Wednesday programs at the Shelby County Public Library, where about 24,000 titles of books are available in the children’s department alone.
According to Youth Services Director Sarahbeth Farabee, 1,785 registered for the Summer Reading Program. Her records showed 1,367 completed the reading requirements – about 77 percent participation, which a book sale representative told her was well above average.
The requirements were that children who were non-readers had to chart 20 books being read to them. Advanced readers had to complete four chapter books. Tweens and Teens, using Farabee’s classification words, had to finish two or more novels. She reflected on children’s comments, “’Can I read this … because I love motorcycles?!’ That’s what I want to hear because if they read what they like, they end up liking to read.”
Farabee explained, “The objective is to give children an opportunity to continue reading during the Summer Break to help further their success when school resumes each August.”
To entice young people and families to the library, she also provided Wacky Wednesday activities that she described as “fun but educational”. Response showed about 900 young people and 400 adults attended the eight events. The themes were geared toward science and math, and included exotic animals, robots, and even zombies. She laughed at the zombie response, “The teens loved it! Makeup was an option; they danced to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller” video; and Officer Kelly Cable pretended to be very serious as he read ‘How to Survive a Zombie Attack’.”
A science and math center set up in the basement children’s department was so popular that it is still available. Farabee and her assistant, Elaine Johnson, showed all types of games for texture, color, counting, and even measuring. Johnson picked up a board with encased objects that “showed children what was magnetic and what was not.”
The reading event was offered June 14-July 26 and the Wednesday activities were held June 18-July 23 with a morning and an afternoon session provided. They culminated with a swim party at the park for those who completed the reading segment. Everyone, however, could take part in the slip-and-slide full of suds provided by the fire department.
Farabee said the community supports the program, particularly mentioning the generous sponsorship for the special programs by Commonwealth Bank. There were also food coupons from restaurants, and grants from Reading Reindeer and the Community Foundation for books.
The library is now gearing up for fall with:
• Story Hours for birth through age 5 on specific days and times.
• Lego Club for ages kindergarten-fifth grade one a month 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Community Room. The “ticket” to participate is bringing a small bag of Legos to the first visit to donate to the club.
• Teen Advisory Board meeting once a month. It’s open to middle and high school students who want to provide input for activities. Applications are available in the downstairs children’s department.
• Family Fun Day is held the third Thursday afternoon of each month.
• Movie Time is the first Saturday of each month at 11 a.m. Popcorn provided; please bring your own drink.
Memories of the 2014 Summer Reading Program linger as one of the robots built from recycled materials has a permanent place in the children’s department – and a permanent name, suggested by Jillian Jacobs, picked as the winner: R2 Read2.