Rowan Public Library outreach extends beyond its walls

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 15, 2018

By Chelsea Rhae Childers

Rowan Public Library

Rowan Public Library is rocking the summer with a full slate of free programming that encourages reading, fosters a love of learning and entertains. Summer Reading at RPL is for everyone, with participants organized by age: children (0-10), teens (11-17) and adults (18 and up).

Participants log their reading and activities, submit their records and win prizes. We know what a task it can be convincing kids to read in the summertime, so we strive to provide an outpouring of outreach opportunities to maintain the blessing of promoting literacy in Rowan County. As the Children’s Outreach Program supervisor, I perform all functions of Books-To-Grow, Rowan-Reads-to-Newborns and oversee Stories-To-Go (the Bookmobile).

Books-To-Grow (BTG) is a literacy program for preschool students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System. This is a program for at-risk 4-year-olds, offered in partnership with RSS and Smart Start Rowan. This take-home book bag program promotes early literacy skills with daily read-aloud sessions between children and parents.

I educate parents on the importance of routinely reading to their young child. A BTG book bag with three developmentally appropriate children’s books and a journal are loaned to participating families on a weekly rotation. I visit each classroom twice a month to lead enjoyable and interactive music, reading and journal sharing time with the children.

Through Rowan-Reads-to-Newborns, every child born at Novant Rowan Medical Center receives a quality library tote-bag containing a high-contrast board book, an American Library Association “Every Child Ready to Read” brochure, Smart Start Rowan brochure, Milestone Moments brochure, library card application for newborns, and a variety of other materials to promote early literacy.

The Stories-To-Go Bookmobile serves licensed child care facilities, Head Start programs, private and pre-schools throughout Rowan County. STG staff, Vicki Rufty and Ashley Bowie, present highly interactive language development programs for children and childcare providers. Children attending child care facilities board the child-friendly bookmobile and select books to take home and share with their families.

Ashley and Vicki are a dynamic duo, serving as the hands and feet of the library, traveling across the county to get books out to the youngsters of Rowan County. During the school year, these programs are for preschoolers at local schools and day care centers, private and public, throughout the county.

In the summertime, I contribute to our Summer Reading Program with preschool toddler programs at all three of our RPL branches. Vicki and Ashley stop their normal story times and book checkouts to go on an altered outreach adventure called “Books & Bites.” The Bookmobile follows the bus routes of the mobile meal sites for a program called Summer Meals.

Sponsored by Rowan-Salisbury Schools, this school nutrition program provides free meals to children ages 3-18. Open sites for Summer Meals 2018 include local churches, schools, municipal buildings and community centers, and operate from June 13 through Aug. 16, Monday -Friday. More information about these programs is available online at

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in “The Little Prince.” It is vital to provide a healthy environment in the home for children, but not all homes are safe. Survivors of violence or abuse in the home may have more complex needs.

Serving the children of Rowan County has been a passion of mine for the better part of a decade. While partnering with community organizations such as Smart Start Rowan, Novant Rowan Medical Center and Rowan-Salisbury Schools, I can provide essential tools for inspiring young minds and building family learning relationships that nurture the development of literacy skills.

Apart from the library, but in relation to these, I am involved with a local non-profit organization called Chickweed. Chickweed Inc. is a registered 501(3) non-profit agency whose mission is to deliver a message of empowerment to victims of violence through the arts. The seventh annual Chickweed ~ Celebrating the Indestructible arts and culture festival takes place on Saturday, July 21.

Chickweed aligns an amazing roster of women performers and artists, demonstrating the empowering ability of the arts. Beginning as a small concert in 2012, and attracting nearly 200 guests in its inaugural run, the event now attracts nearly 500 guests. Chickweed has historically donated event proceeds to our local shelter for women victims of violence and their children.

In 2018, Chickweed advances to a new plane, donating event proceeds to Prevent Child Abuse Rowan Inc. in an effort to stem violence at its roots and further broadcast our reach into the community. Prevent Child Abuse Rowan is proving that education is one of the best ways to combat child abuse in our community through a school-based prevention program.

Rowan Public Library has a wonderful collection of children’s books that promote empowerment and address healthy family relationships. Wouldn’t it be terrific to add these to our children’s summer reading program? For ideas on books to ask for, visit Empowering our youth through the arts — and reading — is a mighty thing. As an annual performer and vice president of Chickweed, I invite you to join us July 21 at the F&M Trolley Barn from 4 to 11 p.m. to celebrate with us. For more information on promoting the arts in support of the Chickweed mission, visit

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with children through Rowan Public Library and to have the support and partnership of so many dedicated and talented people and organizations. As our county programs and efforts increase, the ripple cannot help but be felt by those in need. I realize a community like ours has much to offer by so many doing such good. Won’t you join me and do the same?

Summer Reading: Registration is open for all age groups, children, teen and adults. Consult your nearest branch for details. Headquarters, 704-216-8228; East, 704-216-7838; South 704-216-7727.

School age summer reading program: Dare Devil Dogs is a flying Frisbee dog show. Meet the team and see their amazing tricks. While the School Age Summer Reading program is designed for rising 1st through 5th graders, all ages are welcome; an adult must accompany children under 9. Tuesday, 2 p.m., South; Wednesday, 2 p.m., East; Thursday, 10 a.m., Cleveland, and 2 p.m., headquarters.

Teen summer reading: Enjoy a special class about African dancing from dancer and teacher Sakinah Riley. Monday, 3:30 p.m., East; Tuesday, 3:30 p.m., headquarters; Thursday, 3:30 p.m., South.

Genealogy Workshop: Saturday, July 21, 10 a.m. This class will discuss the information that can be garnered from church records and where to find such records. The class will examine local, denominational and global resources for church records. This event, co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the Edith M. Clark History Room of RPL, is free and open to the public. Call 704-216-8253 for more information.

Summer reading film series: “The Sound of Music,” Monday, 5:30 p.m. East. A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower in this G-rated film (1965, 172 min.). All ages welcome; however, an adult must accompany children under 9.

• “Pitch Perfect 3,” headquarters, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. The Barden Bellas reunite for one last singing competition in the PG-13 rated movie (2017, 94 min.). All ages welcome; however, an adult must accompany children under 13.

• “Moana,” July 21, 10 a.m., South. In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse reaches Moana’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to set things right; (2016, 107 min.) PG. All ages welcome; however, an adult must accompany children under 9.

Displays: Headquarters, Piedmont Players and Carolina Historic Metal Detecting Group, agriculture in gallery exhibit; East, hand-crafted jewelry by Myrtis Trexler; South, lunchbox memorabilia by Sharon Ross.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.