For the fun of it
Library programs encourage reading through interactive events
Ashley Baysinger loves to go to the library.
“She doesn’t know the days of the week, but she knows Thursday is library day,” the 3-year-old’s mom, Amy Baysinger, said.
The Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries holds story-hour at 10 and 11 a.m. every Thursday.
“Linda (Putnam) is very animated so that helps bring it to life,” Baysinger said.
Putnam, a library assistant, uses puppets and lively voices to engage children in the books.
“We had to open up two (story-hours) because we had such a big response,” she said.
That’s just one of the ways the library’s been inviting youths in to explore. Staff organized the Medieval Literacy Festival on Thursday to wrap up the summer reading program that has been bringing children in for the past few months.
Library employees served royal wieners (hot dogs) and dragon puffs (popcorn), and organized a number of games for children to play.
Putnam said the reason the library is able to offer better programming is the increased staff in the past year. Earlier this summer, they held a Harry Potter release party, which included a word scramble the youths had to figure out to win a prize.
Similarly, children could make bookmarks and pick up educational materials at the literacy festival, in addition to playing games.
“It’s just a fun day before school starts,” library director Donna Watkins said. “A lot of kids don’t get to go on vacation … so this is something fun for them.”
But they’re not the only ones who enjoyed themselves.
“We had a great time with this,” Putnam said. “The staff had fun, too.”
But having fun is not enough, Watkins said, for children to want to read.
“If the kids are going to read, they’re going to read,” she said. “If their parents are readers, they’re going to be readers. The parent is the one who has to bring them to the library and introduce them to reading.”
That’s what has been happening with the interactive events, Craig branch manager Sherry Sampson said.
“Seeing parents and grandparents come in with them, that’s something that’s really great to see,” she said.
Putnam had some simple advice for parents who want their kids to read more.
“Read to them,” she said. “Let them pick their own books. There are so many books to choose from. They’ll find something they like.”
Now that the summer reading program has come to a close, staff members will be busy planning holiday events to continue luring people. Putnam is particularly excited about a new program called Guys Read.
A national survey has been turned into a Web site, http://www.guysread.com, which lists books liked by young boys to older men. The library has a special section designated for those books now.
“They’re not necessarily great literature but things guys have voted their favorites,” Putnam said. “I think if guys get to readily choose what they read, they’ll read more.”
And so, far, the program’s been successful, she said. Those books have been checked out regularly.
Another program gives parents of newborn babies take-home baggies with books and information from the hospital.
“It explains how reading, even to an infant, is important,” Watkins said.
With all these programs, the library has seen increased attendance, which Putnam thinks is great.
“It encourages them to come to the library,” she said. “Hopefully they check out a couple of books while they’re here.”
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