Successful Summer Reading Program at Vicksburg Library

willoughby
Stephanie Willoughby, children’s librarian.

The Vicksburg District Library concluded another successful Summer Reading Program according to Director John Sheridan. “The reading program is a great way to help children explore new ideas and interests during the summer months when school is out of session.”

It’s a program that provides services every year to children from infants and toddlers through teenagers and funded by grants from businesses, individuals and nonprofit organizations. Many of the activities put children in motion and allow them to put their physical energy to use in addition to connecting them with new books to develop reading and comprehension, said Stephanie Willoughby, the children’s librarian who supervises the program.

The enrollment for this year’s programs included 42 infant/preschool and 124 elementary school children, drawing children from two local daycares–Little Bulldogs and Kids Clubhouse–and 40 youths in grades 6-11.

Willoughby said, “I love getting to see the children in our community having those ‘aha’ moments when they find the right book. It’s even better when they come back to find something else and they share with me how much they enjoyed reading it. Lots of little ones stop by my desk for stickers and share what they have been up too. It’s great being the ‘Library Lady’ who has become a friend to them.”

She hopes to increase these numbers next summer, even including adult patrons who want a brief respite from responsibilities and who desire to expand their horizons. She and Eric Hansen, the head of Circulation and Reference, are discussing programs for stay-at-home adults who would ordinarily use only services designed for their children. Willoughby and Hansen feel it’s valuable to offer adults special programs that can reinvigorate them.

Some examples of this year’s programs are story-times related to nature, food and nutrition, expression through dance and movement, numerous craft projects that develop children’s ability to express themselves by making things, and music appreciation that includes a concert by local recording artist Benjammin. The Vicksburg District Library’s summer reading programs teach sportsmanship through playing games with children in the community, and allow kids share hobbies and interests such as cosplaying (costumed expression) and comic/sci-fi/fantasy entertainment, Willoughby said.

The program has included lots of family friendly content:

• Viewing recently released family films like, “Inside Out,” and “The Good Dinosaur,” complete with popcorn.

• The John Ball Zoo education program which allows children to see and learn about animals such as snakes, owls, chinchillas, and scorpions.

• The “Bucket List,” which encouraged youth to read books they normally wouldn’t choose and to use books in new and adventuresome ways. Youth receive a free book after completing the program, and they are also entered in a raffle for prizes at the end of the summer;

• A delicious Chocolate Olympics and also a Color Run at Sunset Lake Elementary School;

• Life-Sized board games, and a Wii Mario Kart Competition!

The Vicksburg District Library relies on numerous youth and adult volunteers, including 12 National Honor Society high school students this year. Even though the Summer Reading Program is concluding for the season, Willoughby can be reached at 269-649-1648. She continues to offer events, such as:

• The Pre-Kindergarten story-time on Monday, August 29th at 11 a.m. This event is meant for children who will be entering kindergarten in fall 2016 and will include activities, stories, and fun crafts.

• A weekly story-time series beginning on Monday, September 12th. This includes stories for babies and toddlers at 10:30 a.m., and for preschool children at 11:15 a.m.

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