City officials join parents and libraries to promote reading
by Jessie Burchette
CHINA GROVE ó How much fun can you have at the library?
Children and their parents swamped the Tadlock South Rowan Library Wednesday evening to play games, enjoy free drinks and popcorn.
But the really big treat was getting a free book and hearing grown-up city officials read about caterpillars and dinosaurs and share magic moments.
Around 500 parents and children from all over the county turned out for the third edition of “Salisbury-Rowan Reads,” an effort to promote reading across the county.
China Grove Mayor Don Bringle ad libbed a book on a dinosaur family, quizzing his young audience at times.
“Is a dinosaur cute or ugly,” he asked. At another point, he asked if they used alarm clocks to wake up.
When he struggled to pronounce some of the dinosaur names, a youngster in the crowd, quickly corrected him.
Kannapolis Mayor Bob Misenheimer, a retired educator, enthralled his group, with the story of a caterpillar and its transformation to a butterfly.
Landis Mayor Dennis Brown won over his audience with his reading of “I like myself.” He drew applause from children and parents.
Brown is a volunteer in his wife’s kindergarten class at Millbridge Elementary.
Kannapolis, China Grove and Landis brought firetrucks and other equipment. Firefighters and policemen, along with the equipment, drew keen interest from the youngsters ó along with a bounce house and other inviting attractions.
County and municipal officials were elated with the turnout.
Brown, the Landis mayor, said he wasn’t surprised at the turnout, adding quickly that he was shocked by the crowd and the enthusiasm.
“This is great,” Carl Ford, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, said.
Others called the turnout fantastic and wonderful.
Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz joined in the praise and fun.
Suzanne White, public services manager for the Rowan County Public Library, and the staff were excited to see the library, surrounding grounds and parking lots full.
Around 280 of those attending were children.
“This is incredible,” White said. While many of the faces were familiar ó regulars at the library ó the event drew a lot of newcomers.
White said Wednesday evening that 75 visitors signed up for library cards.
She praised the partnership between the county commissioners and the Salisbury City Council that culminated in the reading program.
For the youngsters, it was all about the books and the fun.
Nathaniel Stoelting, 6, and his sister Alayna, 5, picked out front seats to hear Misenheimer read. Alayna wasn’t shy about raising her hand to get the mayor’s attention to ask about caterpillars.
Dieter Stoelting, their father, often reads to his children. A teacher at South Rowan High School, he praised the effort to get parents to read to their children. And he particularly liked seeing government officials “hamming it up” for the children.
Overall, an estimated 1,500 have attended the three reading events.
Two more are upcoming:
– Aug. 5, East Branch Rowan Library;
– Aug. 12, Cleveland Town Hall.
Events are from 5 to 7 p.m. and include free books for children and free giveaways including a Nintendo Wii system at each location.