Schools have released their students for the summer, and many Manchester children can only think about heading to sports camps and making sand castles. However, the Manchester Public Library doesn’t want reading and learning to stop during the most relaxing months of the year.
The children’s summer reading program, Get Busy with Books, is currently underway at the two public libraries in town, the Mary Cheney and Whiton Memorial Library Building.
The free nine-week program goes until August 25, and participants from birth to children entering fifth grade will get prizes for reading books. In addition, there will be free activities at both libraries almost every day of the week.
“We want to make it a very pleasurable experience for the children,” Pam Cowan, the head of children services at Manchester Public Library, said. “That’s why we have the prizes because it makes them want to read more.”
Prizes will be awarded for every five books a child reads, or every five books that are read to them. The first prize is a t-shirt, then additional prizes include bookmarks, stickers, food coupons, toys and the child’s name on the wall of fame. The books can be books at the child’s grade level.
Cowan said the more fun it is for the children, the more likely they’ll spend time at the library and look at books. Also, she emphasized the importance of reading to children when they are quite young.
“Parents should spend quality bonding time with their kids,” Cowan said. “They’ll get used to the sound of words and can have an advantage as they get older. Reading to your child is a good indicator of increased literacy.”
The free activities almost every day of the week have been well attended over the years, according to Cowan. She said the town is enthusiastic, which makes it easier for the libraries to put on these programs.
“They are just great community events,” Cowan said. “It helps with the children’s social skills. They learn how to act in public and they make friends, and also, parents get to know each other at these programs.”
Some of the activities are drop-in programs which do not require prior registration, while others need to be registered for beforehand.
The drop-in programs occur weekly throughout the summer at Mary Cheney and Whiton. They include Mother Goose Storytime which is especially appropriate for children up to two years of age but everyone is welcome, Outdoor Picnic Storytime for all ages, and Preschool Playgroup for children up to six years of age, where toys and games are provided and parental supervision is required.
Other drop-in activities include Creative Crafts for all ages, Interlocking Blocks for all ages where children build creations with Lego blocks, and Thrilling Thursdays for all ages.
Thrilling Thursdays is when performers entertain the kids at both libraries every Thursday afternoon and evening. Some of the upcoming performers include , Little Groove, Magic Jim, Mr. Gym, Green Gal, Lionheart Puppets, and Rachna Agrawal.
“Thrilling Thursdays are usually our biggest crowds,” Cowan said. “When you hear there is a professional magician or musician coming, it really draws people in. People absolutely love those days.”
Then there are the programs that require registration, including Science Sensations for grades three to five, Super Series for grades two to four, and Nutmeg @ Nite for grades four to six. Science Sensations will go on every Tuesday at Mary Cheney, and the participants will learn about science through fun experiments.
“It gets them active while they’re reading,” Leila Karimian, leader of the science program and a librarian at Manchester Public Library, said. “Instead of being dragged to the library, it’s a fun way to get interested.”
Super Series involves book series discussions at Mary Cheney. The series for July is Magic Tree House on July 19, and the series for August is Geronimo Stilton on August 16. Children must read at least one book in the series to participate.
Nutmeg @ Nite involves a monthly book discussion at Mary Cheney. The book for July is Savvy by Ingrid Law on July 5, and the book for August is "Key to Rondo," by Emily Rodda, on August 2. Children must read the book to participate.
“We play a game about the book, so we take a book and use it for something else,” Karimian, who also leads this program, said. “Not all kids like to read, but having fun at these programs makes the library more approachable.”
For more information on what days the programs go on and which library they take place at, log on to: http://read.townofmanchester.org/childrens.html.
Also, for more information on the programs and to register for them, call 860-645-0577.