Residence: Warner Robins
Occupation: Youth specialist, Nola Brantley Memorial Library
Q: Why are the tables pushed aside at Houston County libraries?
A: We need the space for all the special summer activities and the reading program. We’re not just sitting around this summer.
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Q: When is the summer program?
A: It’s already begun, and participants can turn in reading logs for prizes through July 31.
Q: Is it a competition?
A: No, not a competition like there’s a first place winner for the most books read, but kids get prizes at different levels for books they’ve read.
Q: Why is summer reading important?
A: It’s fun! It’s fun to get lost in a book and let your imagination take over. You can go places you probably won’t get to on your family vacation. On the practical side, it’s also because we don’t want students to lose track academically. If you take a break and don’t keep mentally stimulated, it’s proven you actually lose ground.
Q: What are some of the popular books this summer?
A: So far, “Diary of Wimpy Kid” is still very popular. “Dork Diaries” is big and so is the Pete the Cat series. “Skippy John Jones” is popular and whoa — “Minecraft,” the book after the video game is really in demand.
Q: Are kids reading the classics?
A: Yes, but what’s popular are the classics in graphic comics form. We also have the classics in board books for babies.
Q: Board books?
A: The hard, slick cardboard-type books. Of course they’re simplified.
Q: So can babies and toddlers be in the reading club?
A: Oh yes. We encourage family reading and early literacy begins at home.
Q: Who’s the program for exactly?
A: Kids 0-18 years old. It’s broken into age groups and this year the theme for children 0-11 is “On Your Mark, Get Ready, Read,” and for 12-18 it’s “Get in the Game, Read.” It incorporates health, nutrition and fitness this year.
Q: Why do you need the extra floor space?
A: We have special activities, mostly centered on health. A lot of them involve families. We have yoga, zumba, gardening, first aid and CPR tips — all kinds of things here at Nola Brantley. The Centerville and Perry libraries have their activities and schedules, too. The first aid and CPR tips are done by Houston Healthcare EMS.
Q: How are you doing gardening?
A: The Greenbriar Garden Club is doing it. The first week kids planted butterbeans in cups to take home and watch grow, and they’ve been planting things in potting soil bags that we keep here. We don’t have ground to till here, so growing things in bags is perfect. By the end of summer, they’ll be able to take produce home. Gardening is Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.
Q: How can people keep track of all that’s going on?
A: Go to www.houpl.org.
Q: How do kids join the reading club? How does that work?
A: Three ways: come in our library and see someone at the children’s desk and get a packet, or use one of the Chromebooks to register and pick up a packet, or sign up online at home and come pick up a packet. In it you get a log and children 0-11 put stickers on it for each book they read — or have read to them — and students 11-18 write the names of their books on it. When they read to certain benchmarks, they come in for a prize. Levels are like five books, then 10 books, 15, 20 and on so on. The big one is up to 100.
Q: How about prizes?
A: We have all kinds starting with things like pencils and stickers to coupons to area restaurants and dance lesson at the Academy of Dance, and skating at Olympia and bowling at Gold Cup. All sorts of things. We have some really big prizes this year like from Rigby’s Entertainment Complex for the older kids and Monkey Joe’s for the younger. The first 500 readers to complete a certain number of books — it varies according to age — get a free skating pass at Rigby’s, and the first 200 get admission to Monkey Joe’s. And the Georgia National Fair is doing something where a family at each library can be eligible to win four tickets to the fair.
Q: All these prizes are donated?
A: Yes. The whole reading program and children’s activities are made possible through community support, and our community is so good to us. We really appreciate all they do for the kids. We definitely couldn’t do it without them because there’s no normal library funding for these programs. It’s all through donations. The green, wooden dinosaur-coin banks at our counters collect money for our children’s programs, but the special contributions and prize donations really make summer reading what it is.
Q: You seem pretty excited by all this.
A: I was in summer reading programs and camps when I was young and have experienced the benefit. My parents kept us involved in reading programs and camps, and my dad, who was in the Navy, made sure we stayed physically active and mentally active. He had us reading books and newspapers and all sorts of things.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.