Annual summer reading program undeterred by COVID-19 closure

Posted 5/26/20

Despite not being able to conduct live programs this summer due to the coronavirus shutdown, the Bartow County Library System will carry on with its annual summer reading program.Kids and teens are …

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Annual summer reading program undeterred by COVID-19 closure

Despite not being able to conduct live programs this summer due to the coronavirus shutdown, the Bartow County Library System will carry on with its annual summer reading program.
Kids and teens are encouraged to keep their minds sharp during their two-month break from school by participating in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge 2020, which is adopting the Collaborative Summer Library Program theme, “Imagine Your Story.”
“It’s a wonderful theme,” Youth Services Coordinator Thomas Shalin said. “We have a good amount of folk tale- and fairy tale-themed programs to go along with the theme. I also like the idea of kids learning more about their story – who they are, what they are about. We were going to have kids create self-portraits of themselves to decorate the library with, but we can still hit on some of those themes in an online setting.”
Young people can track their reading time on an online app called Beanstack from June 1 to July 31, and as they finish their reading goals, they earn virtual badges and prizes.
Shalin said the program will be structured like it was last year. For every 200 minutes kids read, they get a free book or prize, and when they reach 800 minutes, they can enter the grand prize drawing for tickets to either Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium or Fernbank Museum.
Teens earn a prize for reading for six hours, a chance to win one of three $25 prizes for 12 hours and a free book and a chance to win $100 for 24 or more hours.
There also will be other program badges kids and teens can earn.
Shalin said the library “most likely won’t be able to offer live programming this summer, as is the case with all of the libraries in the state.”
“We, of course, want to see everybody live and in person, but we also want to open safely and in conjunction with the guidelines,” he said. “Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for special announcements and programs all summer long.”
Friday’s big kickoff event, a virtual Peek into the Puppet Studio with David Stephens, had to be postponed due to technical difficulties, Shalin said.
“David is having streaming issues from his studio space so we ended up having to cancel,” he said. “We have rescheduled his live performance for Saturday, Nov. 7, so I hope everyone comes out then. He’s an amazing puppeteer. We are sad to not be able to see him at the beginning of our summer. We are hoping that by fall, we will be able to have large programs again. Things change by the day.”
But the library will be conducting at least three online programs a week on Facebook Live during June and July, Shalin said. 
Currently, staff members are doing a Storybreak for toddlers and preschoolers every Tuesday at 10 a.m. and Afternoon Adventures with live stories and crafts for school-age kids Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m.
“We will be doing videos for Kids Cook and other things, too, over the summer,” Shalin said.
Weekly teen craft videos also will be posted on Fridays.
“We are starting a Twitter teen book club called Read Ya, Tweet Ya, where teens can follow our teen Twitter account and discuss the books,” Shalin said.
The library will host two online programs, one in June and one in July, in conjunction with Out of the Box Education.
On June 11 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on the library’s Facebook page, “we are featuring a virtual field trip called Shining Knight, which shows how to become a knight,” Shalin said.
“Kids can see how castles work, and they’ll see a real suit of armor,” he said.
In addition to that program, “we will be doing a video version of activities from our own knight training event we were planning so we are trying to adapt as much as we can for online,” he said.
Staff members will conduct another Facebook program called Here be Dragons, “which talks about amazing large creatures like dinosaurs, Megalodons and others,” on July 9 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Shalin said.
The library’s reading program averages about 1,500 kids and teens every summer, according to Shalin, and he is “always hoping for more.”
The staff is eagerly awaiting the day that patrons can at least “come into the library and get books and materials in person sooner than later, hopefully during the summer,” Shalin said.
“We hope to see you all at the library as soon as we are able,” he said. “We miss you. Don’t forget you can still get materials online through Overdrive and Hoopla as well as stopping by via curbside. Put in your materials requests.”