By Adrianne Schinkai, Head of Reference and Circulation for Vicksburg District Library
Every summer, public libraries gear up for an influx of school age patrons. The Vicksburg District Library is no different. The library hosted the Summer Reading Program once again, inviting participants from toddler to 12th grade to read books in exchange for a variety of prizes. Prizes this year included free pizza vouchers from Pizza Hut, earbud headphones, and large prize baskets raffled off to those who met all reading requirements.
The library has also been host to a number of events for its younger patrons, spanning all interests and ages.
On July 12th, grade school Summer Reading participants got to enjoy the sun during the Color Run on the ground of Sunset Lake Elementary. Volunteers tossed colored powder into the air while over 100 participants ran around the school track. White shirts were covered with colorful swirls. Popsicles were passed out at the end of the event to rainbow grins.
Youth Services Librarian Stephanie Willoughby plays host to youth events year-round. “The Summer Reading Program is a fun way to include reading and related activities in summer family time,” says Willoughby. “It helps children maintain and improve reading skills. Kids get to see each other at our programs and continue to build relationships and friendships. Children can be great encouragers of reading when they talk to the friends about their favorite books and make those recommendations.”
Story Time is always popular for toddlers. Books are read by Willoughby, songs are sung, and play time is abundant. A themed craft is also included. Nolan Showan, 4, says “they play a lot and that’s my favorite thing!” Showan then excitedly declares to his grandmother and Willoughby that this makes him ready for kindergarten in the fall of 2019. Amanda Dabideen, mother of Brandon, 4, has been bringing him to Story Time since he was eight months old. “It’s time for them to be social and still learn without feeling like they’re learning. They just get to listen and play and sing, and just have a good time.”
Throughout the summer, free movies have been shown in the lower level of the library for teen patrons, including the fan favorite, Black Panther. Most events include a treat of some kind. “I want to connect with kids and teens on their level and for many of them video games and movies are more attractive activities than just crafts and books,” says Willoughby. “When the teens are playing games, you get an opportunity to talk with them and for them to open up to you.”
Along with reading, the library also becomes a haven for kid gamers. A daily convoy of tweens and teens come to utilize computers and internet in order to participate in their favorite games. Current favorites are Roblox and Fortnite. This all takes place in front of the circulation desk, where the computers are located.
“Teens who never stopped in during the school year are checking out what we have to offer,” Willoughby adds. “Our library is a community center for all of Vicksburg.”