Library readies for first summer reading program in new facility

By Mary Hood
Fairhope Courier Intern
Posted 5/24/07

FAIRHOPE — Clowns, puppets, deep sea critters, dancing, clay sculpting and magic. This summer all of this and more can be found at the Fairhope Public Library.

The summer reading program for preschool, elementary and middle school age begins in …

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Library readies for first summer reading program in new facility


FAIRHOPE — Clowns, puppets, deep sea critters, dancing, clay sculpting and magic. This summer all of this and more can be found at the Fairhope Public Library.

The summer reading program for preschool, elementary and middle school age begins in June.


For the preschoolers, the theme is “Get a Clue @ Your Library.”

Jeni Lee Smith, youth services assistant, said she thinks the theme is appropriate, and a lot can be done with it.

“The library is a great place to come and get a clue. You can discover what mysteries lie inside fictitious and non-fiction books,” Smith said.

Preschoolers can come in Tuesday mornings at 10 and 11 where they can be read to and get their book logs stamped for the weekly incentive.

Book logs are included in the registration packet, and children are encouraged to read during scheduled reading times. After they’ve read, they are asked to write down the amount of time they read or were read to and the title of the book. If they’ve met the requirements by the end of the week, they get an incentive, or prize.

Preschoolers are asked to be read to for 10 minutes per day per week to qualify for the incentive.

The coming attractions for the preschoolers are dance classes taught by Gina Lanaux from Creative Dance Outlet.

Tamara Dean, youth services coordinator, has seen the enjoyment children get from creative dance.

“(Gina Lanaux) comes almost every year for the preschool (age) because they do creative dance, and they love it,” Dean said. “Even the boys love it.”

Preschoolers can also expect a visit from the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, puppets and a clowning class. The schedule for the attractions are included in the packet received during registration.

Story time will also be held for preschoolers during June at 11 a.m.


Elementary school students share the same theme as the preschool level. Children in this age group can come to the library Wednesdays at 2 p.m, to read for their book log. Elementary children are asked to read 20 minutes per day per week for the incentive.

Their attractions include a magic show, puppets, Monsters from the Deep and a visit from Timothy Weeks, the author of The Wise Mullet books.

“We’re really excited about getting him here,” Dean said.

In July, children can participate in the elementary art program, which requires registration. Elementary art includes origami, pottery, cartooning and clown school.

“This year, we extended it to three weeks of art,” Dean said. “I feel like this is a more well-rounded approach to (the children’s) development.”

Smith said at the beginning of the program for the elementary children, there will be a “read aloud.” A mystery book will be read, Steal Back the Mona Lisa, and as it’s being read, it will be acted out by the staff.

“It’s a way to start each elementary program,” Smith said. “It helps focus them in.”


For teens, the theme is “Investigate @ Your Library,” which takes place Thursday afternoons at 4:30.

For the teens to qualify for the weekly incentive they must read 30 minutes per day per week.

The attractions teens can look forward to over the summer are a “Movie Mystery,” a class on fossils, gemstones and minerals, a class on cartooning and a visit from an FBI agent who will talk about FBI forensics.

“(I’m) really excited for the teens to see how they like having the FBI agent,” Smith said.

Dean expressed excitement for the variety of entertainers that will be participating in the program this summer. Typically, Dean said entertainers don’t come back from year to year unless they are “exceptionally great.”

“This year we’re having a whole new lineup,” Dean said of the entertainers.

Dean hears about the entertainers by networking with other librarians in Baldwin County and Alabama.

Dean expect high participation this year. Last year around 300 children attended, Dean said. This year registration has been open since May 7 and already, 290 kids have signed up.

“We’ve closed the elementary art program because it’s way beyond full,” Dean said. “So, that’s pretty awesome. And we’re pleased with our middle school turnout — registration at least.”



Responses from the children from year to year are always positive, Dean said, and having the new facility has generated great response as well.

“They’re thrilled,” Dean said. “And once they’re in the program, every year they’re looking forward to it, especially in the new facility. The response to the new facility has been awesome. “

Dean said she believes the new facility lends a lot more room to grow with the summer reading program.

“I think we feel like there’s a lot more we can do,” Dean said. “Plus we have additional staff in this department, which helps a lot.”

One big difference, Dean said, is that the elementary program in past years has been held in the Civic Center, but this year will be held in the Giddens Conference Center.

“This year is a learning curve to see what kind of response (we get), we may have to go back to the Civic Center, but right now we’re hoping we can maintain it in one facility,” Dean said.

The incentives that are given each week to the readers are donated by businesses in the community. These contributions also support the door prizes that are given out each week.

Dean said the program couldn’t be pulled off without the help of the Friends of the Library either, which is how the library receives most of its funding.

Overall, Dean said she is excited about the program and said the most important reason the library has the summer reading program is “to get kids to read for pleasure at a time when they’re not in school.”

The program is important for other reasons In addition to generating good reading habits in children.

“It promotes getting them prepared for school and achievement and, of course, we want to increase their awareness of all the information tools that are available at the library.”

Dean said she believes the children enjoy receiving incentives each week.

“I think what they enjoy most is reaching their goal and coming in and getting the incentive because they don’t know what it is from week to week, and I think there is a certain amount of pride, expectation and excitement about that more than anything,” Dean said. “I think they really do respond to our encouragement for them to read.”

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