Summer Reading stomps into Liberty Hill

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

It is the time of year when words jump especially higher off the pages, and this time around, the dinosaurs roar extra loudly. It is when marshmallows, straws, Gummi worms and pipe cleaners come together to make magic on a hot afternoon.

It’s summer reading time at the Liberty Hill Public Library.

In what can only be described as choreographed chaos, the library is already off to a big start in terms of sign up and reading time.

“It is absolutely the most fun and the kids are having a great time,” said Library Director Angela Palmer. “It’s just the best time of the year. Turnout has been great and we have over 700 kids signed up so far. We have over 100 teens and 300 adults, too.”

The reading progress is also off to a fast start just two weeks into the program.

“More than 100 kids have already read at least 400 minutes, and we are at 59,000 minutes in just the first two weeks,” Palmer said.

There is still plenty of time to sign up for the reading program, which can be done easily at the library. And the calendar is full of daily activities to liven up the summer.

“We kicked off the activities Monday with a take-home Gummi fossil activity and then Tuesday children got to make their own book bag,” she said. “Everyone is really loving the dinosaur theme this year, ‘Stomp, Romp, Roar, Read.’”

Upcoming events include Wild Things Zoofari coming June 13 and the Big Rig Petting Zoo June 20.

“Wild Things Zoofari brings all sorts of animals to the library for kids to see and everybody loves that,” Palmer said. “Then at the Big Rig Petting Zoo the kids get to climb on the vehicles, meet the people who operate them and make their own hard hat.

“With the activities we try to focus on STREAM, which stands for science technology reading engineering arts and math,” Palmer said. “We kind of try to hit all that stuff to keep them creative and thinking and using their brains as much as we can get them to do while still having fun.”

On June 27, the activity is a dinosaur fairy garden. The full calendar for the program can be found on the library website along with details on the reading program.

Palmer said reading through the summer can be critical for student retention of what they learned through the school year.

“There’s a thing called summer slide, that when kids leave school with the three months off, what happens is they start losing what they’ve learned, so teachers spend a couple of months refreshing everybody when school starts,” she said. “Many studies have shown that kids that participate and read in the summer don’t have that summer slide and are much better prepared for school in the fall.”

It is also a chance to help good reading habits rub off on younger children.

“When children have a sibling or parent who is close to them that is a reading role model, they read more,” Palmer said.

This year, the library has tried to tie in fundraising for its building expansion with the summer reading program, through activities and the Day of Giving on June 28.

“We are doing a Build it by the Minute fundraiser, and trying to get people to sponsor minutes,” Palmer said. “We’re asking people to do things like give 10 cents a minute, so they give $10 to sponsor 100 minutes of reading.”

For the kids, who are divided into four dinosaur teams for the summer program, there is a penny collection challenge.

“Kids can bring in their pennies and that will all go to the building fund, and that’s just another way to try to get them invested and they love the competition part of it,” she said.

The need for more space and room for programming is never more evident than during the summer reading program.

“Right now it would be a dream,” Palmer said of having more space. “We’ve recently had some shelving donated to us so it has cut down our space we can use for crafts, but we’re making it work. It would give us room to do lots more stuff for kids and for adults. We would have enough room to have a meeting room and add a program room.”

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