Hitting the books

Libraries buzzing with reading programs

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2008


  Alston Thomas, 3, is all ears during a recent story time at the Kenai library. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Alston Thomas, 3, is all ears during a recent story time at the Kenai library.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Spring break has come and gone. Summer approaches fast and for parents who wonder how to keep their kids reading after school ends, there are several community programs available.

Terri Burdick, Assistant Librarian at the Soldotna Public Library, has already started preparing for their summer reading program, "Catch the Reading Bug."

"We do the summer reading program. It's part of a state-run, cooperative type program. They come up with a theme, and they have a really nice book, of neat ideas, that we get for free. It's up to us to decide how we implement it. So, even though Kenai shares the same theme, they do theirs in their own way, we do ours. They go so many weeks, we go a different number of weeks," Burdick said.

The theme for 2008 is "Bugs." Burdick runs programs for preschool-age children, readers, teens and families. There will be a kickoff event on May 30, and a culmination party at the end of July.

Over the course of the summer, the library will have story time sessions, contests, guests, prizes and more. The program has been a popular one. Last summer more than 200 young people participated. Though not initially a fan of the insect world, Burdick is getting into the spirit with decoration ideas and even a bug-themed shirt for the summer program.

"We find books that go with the theme. And so, with this year being about bugs and I usually know in the fall what the program is going to be in the summer, so I can start buying as we going along we've already got some bug books in our collection, and some that I'm holding back for summer," Burdick said.

The Kenai Community Library is gearing up for a summer of buggy goodness, as well.

"We'll do some bug movies, and bug stories. We'll do a craft, we'll have some songs. We're going to break it into two groups, but they'll happen at the same time. The younger ones will be in the children's area and the older ones will be in the conference room, so parents won't have to make two trips for different age groups," said Mary White, the Youth Services Librarian at the Kenai Community Library.

For families who are ready for a reading program right now, White said that the Kenai Community Library has a variety of programs already in session.

White said they offer story time for preschoolers on Tuesday mornings, and Russian story time on Monday afternoons.

"It's just really unique, and wonderful, and Janina (Efta) does that. She speaks Russian, and so they come in and we have Russian stories, and it's very popular. They learn words, and sing songs, and tell stories," White said.

On Wednesday mornings there is a Wee Read for infants and toddlers.

"It's just more to get them used to hearing stories, and they get to play together. We love that," White said.

The Wee Read is an opportunity for parents to gather as well. White said that they sometimes have as many as 16 babies, and they have a chance to play and socialize, as well.

At the Triumvirate Theatre and Bookstore in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, there is a year-round program for young readers geared toward children who want to collect books of their own.

Rosie Reeder, Triumvirate Bookstore volunteer coordinator, said the purpose of their reading programs is, "basically, to get books in the hands of kids. We're always looking for ways to make that as easy as possible for the kids. We give away tons of books, and we would love to work with a classroom or anything like that. We do the reading carnival most years, that kind of thing. So really it's just to get books in the hands of kids. And especially kids that wouldn't normally have books at their disposal to get a book they can keep."

Kids involved with Triumvirate's "Frequent Reading" program earn punches for reading during the course of the week. Calendars initialed by parents earn punches, which earn free books for the participants. The program includes extra punches for reading to siblings, attending a story telling session, or other activities that involve reading or writing.

The theater and bookstore offers other programs for young people, including a play contest, summer theater camps, art activities, and more. Reeder said that the theater and bookstore share an audience, and work well together. Someone who knows about the bookstore might not be aware of the theater, and vice versa, so volunteers in both branches are often called upon to answer questions about the multi-use space. Triumvirate welcomes requests to use the space for meetings and events that support reading.

"If students want to have a reading group, or if adults want to have a reading group, they would be able to use the theater for free. ... Anything we can do for reading, or the arts, especially with kids, we're glad to do," Reeder said.

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