Liberty Hill Public Library’s Summer Reading Program to be ‘super’

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By Rachel Madison

The community is invited to become like their favorite superheroes during the Liberty Hill Public Library’s annual summer reading program, which kicks off May 11.

The theme, “Be a Superhero: Read,” was chosen by the library staff because everybody loves superheroes, said Angela Palmer, library director.

“We always try to pick themes kids relate to and themes that encourage them to read,” she said. “We thought that might be a fun thing to do this summer.”

Like past years, those who sign up for the summer reading program will get sorted into teams. This year’s superhero teams will include Ironman, Spiderman, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Groot.

While signups for the program will begin May 11, actual programming will begin May 26. Several favorites, like the Big Rig Petting Zoo on June 19 at 10:30 a.m. and the Austin Reptile Shows on July 23 at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., will take place once again, but new activities have also been added to the roster.

“This summer we’re adding more performers we haven’t had before,” Palmer said. “We’ll have a magician, a clown storyteller, puppets, a ventriloquist and a magnet science program. We have several big performer events this year.”

Other major events during summer reading include a Wildlife on the Move show at 2 p.m. on May 28, Flying Disc Dogs of Austin on June 9 at 9 a.m., the Singing Zoologist on June 29 at 10:30 a.m., and a Balloon Storytelling on July 20 at 10:30 a.m.

The library will also host a variety of do-it-yourself crafts, like making a superhero board game and decorating a book bag. Superhero treats, science-to-go kits and a kid’s code club round out the library’s offerings for the summer.

“This year we’re doing a little bit of what we’ve done in the past and some different stuff,” Palmer said. “We just try to mix it up a little bit to keep it fun.”

Children, teens and adults are allowed to participate in the summer reading program. For every 600 minutes a person reads—or has read to them if they aren’t yet able to read—will qualify them for a prize and a raffle ticket. Prizes will range from gift cards to local eateries to crafting kits and action figures.

“We count books you read, books that are read to you, and books you listen to,” Palmer said. “Literacy is good no matter what you’re doing. We even want toddlers to participate. It lets them participate and feel like they belong. We like to have teens and adults in the program because it helps model behavior for the younger kids. If they have someone in their life who reads, they’re more likely to read.”

Last year’s summer reading program had about 1,275 children, 200 teens and 525 adults participate, and together they read over a million minutes, Palmer said. She expects to see that number grow this year.

“They blew it out of the water last year,” she said. “It was amazing. We want to keep building our numbers up this year. The first year we had a summer reading program we had 200 kids, so we’ve quadrupled participation in the last several years.”

Palmer said reading in the summer is extremely important for kids and teens because it prevents the “summer slide.”

“During the summer, kids can lose the gains they’ve made,” Palmer said. “Tons of research shows when kids read through the summer, they retain more of what they learned in the previous school year and are better prepared for school in the fall. It’s fun, gives kids things to do, and helps them remember what they’ve learned.”

Palmer added that every activity the library hosts during the summer is completely free.

“These events are something that are free for parents to take their kids to,” she said. “We provide educational and fun recreational activities. There’s a lot of great summer camps out there, but they cost money, and we try to be free for everyone.”

The summer reading finale celebration will take place July 31 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

“We’ll probably do the water day again because it’s an annual tradition,” Palmer said. “We’re trying to decide of we’ll have ice cream or a treat, and we’ll have a bunch of stuff for the kids to do. I’m going to see if I can get the fire department over here to spray them down with water again.”

Palmer said in addition to the traditional summer reading program, she and Jolie Jennings, the librarian at Bill Burden Elementary School, are also going to start a pop-up summer reading program.

“A lot of kids have working parents, so they can’t come to the library,” Palmer said. “Sometimes those are the kids that need us most. I feel like I’ve been letting down the community in that regard, so we’re collecting books to give away to kids in their homes, as well as science kits and craft kits.”

Six different times this summer Palmer and Jennings plan on visiting various local neighborhoods to give kids these summer reading kits.

“It’s our pilot project,” Palmer said. “We’ve never done it, but we’ll see how it goes and what response we get. We hope it’s successful because we just want to reach the kids. We’ll take the library to them and keep building on it if it works.”
For more information, visit the library on Facebook or call (512) 778-6400.

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