“I came for the snow cones, I stayed for the books” should have been the motto of the Wilkinson Public Library’s second annual Summer Kickoff Party on Thursday afternoon. In addition to free snow cones, a library summer reading station was set up and local organizations and businesses showcased their summer programs.
Erin Hollingsworth, head of youth services, said the goal of the launch party was to involve children and strategically plan the event on the last day of the school year.
“They’re not in school and we’re giving them something else to do. We’re lucky to live in a community that offers and has so many great opportunities and organizations that offer so many people. It’s nice to ‘have an event to spread the word,’” Hollingsworth said.
For younger children, the library’s summer reading program was taking off. Children received a book of badges to track their summer reading and could choose a free book to launch them. As children progress through the summer, they can count what they have read through the stickers in the books. At the end of the summer, kids can bring their stickers to Family Movie Night on August 3, where they can win prizes based on their stickers. Hollingworth aims to prevent the “summer slide”.
“Summer slide is a classic term used to describe reading loss over the summer when children are not in school. They are not learning every day. Especially in recent years, reading levels have dropped because we’ve had a tumultuous two years. We try to make reading fun during the summer,” Hollingsworth said.
Six-year-old Jack Woody attended the event and chose the book “Grumpycorn,” about a unicorn trying to write his own book but not knowing what to write. Jack chose it because he found the illustrations on the cover amusing.
“I love reading and looking at the pictures,” Jack said.
Jack’s 5-year-old brother, Dean, said he’ll be coming back to the library often this summer.
Organizations and businesses like the US Forest Service, Pinhead Institute, Ah Haa School, Telluride Academy and Drop Boardshop had stations Thursday afternoon. Activities have been put in place to involve children and interest them in the programmes. The Pinhead Institute did a dry ice experiment at their table, and the Ah Haa School handed out little white resin figurines that the kids could paint.
Craig Wasserman, the owner of the Drop, came to the kickoff to share information about his summer skate camp, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. He’s excited about the new additions to the Town Park skate park, which opened on Friday.
“We’re really excited as the new addition is set up perfectly for the introduction and progression of new skaters,” added Wasserman.
Thursday morning, the teenagers had their official kick-off. According to Rachael Lefebvre, service specialist at the library, about 35 teenagers were present. They played Jenga and trivia, and the top three received gift cards for Clark’s Market.
Lefebvre is excited for the summer, especially the new book club LGTBQI. The club has just started and will meet once a month. Members of the community who identify similarly to the characters in the book will come forward to share their own stories each month. It also allows children to meet more people and adults outside of school.
Compared to children’s programs, Lefebvre explained that teenagers are a bit more “hands-off.”
“You can’t push them into things, that’s what I find. You have to read the play and see what they’re into,” Lefebvre said.
If you are not a child or a teenager, there are still plenty of summer programs for adults. The Reading Flash Mob, Wednesday. June 1 at Elk’s Park from noon to 1 p.m. is the perfect place to learn about upcoming summer events during your lunch break. Free books and cookies will be provided.