Summer Reading Program off to great start at Rowan Public Library

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Paul Miller of Flo’s Circus made it look easy as he spun plates and juggled balls, boxes, and flower sticks in front of a capacity crowd at Rowan Public Library Monday. But, he explained to the young audience, it took a lot of practice to be that good.
“It all started when I went to the library and checked out a book on juggling,” Miller explained.
Flo’s circus was the first in a series of free weekly performances that will run until July 30 as part of Rowan Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Other performers include a magician, a marionette theater, Chinese acrobats and storytellers. Programs are open to children from age 12 months to rising fifth-graders.
“Anyone is welcome to attend,” explained Children’s Supervisor Erika Kosin. “You can come to one week or all of them.”
In addition to the weekly performances, children are encouraged to register for the program and track their time spent reading on a reading log.
“We have over 650 children registered already, and probably another 400 or more participating through their summer camp groups,” Kosin said.
Celebrating the program’s “Be Creative” theme, nearly 590 children and parents attended the kick-off events, where children created music shakers, photo albums, rubber-band launched rockets, and bookmarks. Al Yountz’s balloon animals were a favorite with the crowds.
Children do not have to be present every week to take part in the program. “We see children who are visiting grandparents for just a week or two, and others who are here for every program. It doesn’t matter, as long as they’re reading,” Kosin said.
Reading’s important, Kosin explains, because children who don’t read during the summer stand to lose between one and two grade levels of knowledge gained throughout the school year.
“Families already recognize the value of our programs as free entertainment in bad economic times, but they’re also seeing the value of reading together,” she said.
The risks of losing what they’ve learned doesn’t stop with children. Teens also stand to lose some of their school-year knowledge, so the library has a separate summer program just for them. The teen events are part of Rowan Public Library’s “Express Yourself at Your Library” program, open to rising sixth- through twelfth-graders. Programs began this week and will be held from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Mondays at the Headquarters Library in Salisbury, Tuesdays at South Rowan Regional Library in China Grove, and Wednesdays at the East Branch in Rockwell.
“Teens are at-risk today,” Kosin said, “no matter who they are, because there aren’t a lot of jobs or activities out there for them when the economy’s tight like it is.”
The library provides a safe place for them to learn new skills and have fun with their friends.
“And of course we feed them,” Kosin added. Teens get pizza and Cheerwine at their events.
The first program offered teens the chance to participate in a workshop to learn juggling, Japanese kendama ó a hammer-like toy with a ball connected by a string ó and how to use flower sticks. Teens had the chance to learn from the expert ó Paul Miller again ó and develop hand/eye coordination skills.
“Many teens are spending a lot of time today alone with video games,” Kosin pointed out. “This gives them a chance to be active, learn new skills together and practice with each other. They’ll want to impress or outdo their friends.”
Most of the programs offer participants the opportunity to create something they can take home. Teens will be creating avatars on the computer, making puppets out of various objects and turning out fun creations with fruits and vegetables. Other programs will involve taking part in an “Amazing Race”-style scavenger hunt and a music workshop where aspiring musicians can bring their instruments and share their ideas.
Rowan County is a major supporter of both the Children’s and Teen Summer Reading Programs. The Friends of Rowan Public Library and Cheerwine also support both programs.
For more information on the “Be Creative” Children’s Summer Reading Program or the “Express Yourself at Your Library” Teen Reading Program, call:
– Headquarters in Salisbury: 704-216-8234
– South Rowan Regional Library in China Grove: 704-216-7727
– East Branch in Rockwell: 704-216-7842