Libraries educate, entertain with summer reading programs

Aug 23, 2019

When teachers take off for the summer, librarians go into overdrive to provide reading enrichment, programs and special rewards  for kids across the tri-town.  

All three summer reading programs shared a common theme (a universe of stories) after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, which took place this summer, but each library found ways to put their own spin on the theme. 

In Rochester, reading logs were structured as “mission logs,” and children, teens and adults earned stickers for completing each mission. These stickers went onto a sticker mural, slowly revealing a mystery image (which turned out to be an astronaut on the moon, with Earth in the background).

“Although we do offer a young adult and adult program, the focus of summer is for children aged 3 to 12, and that is the majority of our participants,” said Lisa Fuller, youth services librarian at Plumb library. 

She said the library had 202 people who registered for summer reading and 150 of those were children. All but 40 completed their mission logs, perhaps motivated by a Captain Bonney’s ice cream social, awards at school and tickets to a Paw Sox game.

Plumb Library also hosted 50 programs, which brought in 1,700 attendees.  Toe Jam Puppet Band in Outer Space alone brought in 150 people.

In addition to the events, the library also hosted weekly challenges, where children would have to find a tiny astronaut figure called Cosmo and decipher a scrambled word.  

“Another well-loved activity was selecting a shiny new book each week,” said Fuller. “These books were purchased thanks to the Scholastic Literacy Partnership and funding by the Rochester Lions Club.”   

Because Plumb Library finished its mural, Fuller will present the Old Colony Robotics team with a check in September. 

Marion’s Elizabeth Taber Library also had a charitable bent to its summer reading. Rather than have tasks, the library timed how long children read, and donated $1 to Heifer International, a charity that purchases livestock and other goods for people in third world countries to enable them to improve their lives, for every hour read. 

Marion’s Eastern Bank and the Sippican Woman’s Club pitched in, and the library was able to buy four goats, three rabbits, honey bees and a hive for a family in Cambodia. 

Marion’s public library also hosted a variety of programs, some at the library and some at the Marion Music Hall. Between parents and children, 1,821 people attended. 

Children who participated in the program were also rewarded with an ice cream social. 

Children’s librarian Rosemary Grey commended her other librarians, who “cheerfully helped out with the large groups of children and a seemingly endless flow of books.” 

The Mattapoisett Free Public Library also structured its summer reading program by keeping track of how long participants read. 

“We found it easiest to do reading by minutes, because kids were at all different levels,” said Chris Matos, the children’s librarian and assistant director.  

Mattapoisett hosted 60 programs and had over 1,500 participants, which was about a third more participation than last year. 

It also had 240 children sign up for the summer reading program. 

Matos dressed as an astronaut for one program and then regularly fielded questions from young patrons as to why she wasn’t dressed in her astronaut suit. 

The library also made an effort to expand its teen summer reading program. 

Michelle Skaar, who manages the teen section of the library, found that audiobooks were very popular. 

The summer reading program also gave teens the opportunity to check out a number of library services besides books, which Skaar said increased interest in the library’s makerspace. 

“We had more questions and orders, especially from teens and younger kids,” she said.  

Next year, the theme for the summer reading will be fairy tales and myths.