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Reach for the stars

Summer reading program kicks off with a party

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This summer, kids should reach for the stars to hit reading goals during Mamie’s Place Children’s Library’s Summer Reading Program, “Universe of Stories.” Activities throughout the five-week program are geared toward the solar system, stars and astronomy.

The Summer Reading Program kicks off June 3 at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex gymnasium with Gusty Fox’s traveling gymnastic performance and the Skin and Bones Comedy Circus. Children of all ages are invited to participate.

“It’s all about the kids setting a reading goal and being rewarded for reaching that goal,” said Melissa Moncrief, one of three librarians at Mamie’s Place. “Summer is a time when they can read about their interests and just have fun.”

Last year, about 1,800 children participated in the Libraries Rock summer program and 6,496 books were read. There is no requirement to be a resident of the area. Visiting family members and friends are welcome to enjoy any of the activities throughout the summer. The week of July 4 there will be no events.

Registration is open until June 7 at the library, but kids who are not registered are still able to participate in events.

“Our goal is to promote area literacy, so we don’t hold anyone back from being a part of the fun,” said Moncrief.

All of the events that are hosted – about three or four days per week – will take place at Mamie’s Place, except the kickoff and finale. Russell Wright with United Martial Arts in Alexander City hosts a teen kickboxing class every Tuesday at 10 a.m. This is the only event limited to ages 13 and up; all others are suitable for all ages.

Throughout the summer, there will be movie days, magic shows, animal petting zoos and interactive story-tellers.

“We even partner with the chamber of commerce each year to host events during Sun Festival and Jazz Fest,” said Moncrief.

A library card is required to check out books, and when library items are returned, the books are logged. This accounts for eBooks, as well.

“A guardian should always be instrumental in helping kids check out their book selections,” said librarian Melissa Finley.

Throughout the season, the library hosts weekly drawings from names of children who read books that week. Winners are announced each Friday with prizes ranging from gift cards to baskets of goodies.

“We reach out to all schools, daycares, churches, boys and girls club to let them know what we have going on here. We take calendars around to everyone, and we want to spread the word about our programs,” said Moncrief.

Some teachers will even sign up entire classes and take out books under their own names, she added.

The end of the summer will wind up with a finale party open to all children, regardless of participation during summer events. This is where students receive rewards for reaching their goals. There will be a train ride on site, a bouncy house, obstacle course, free Kona Ice, lunch and much more.

“Ballard Party Rentals basically does it all for us, and the kids have a great time,” said Moncrief.

College Counts, an organization providing information on planning for future education, is typically on site as well.

After the finale, the library will host back-to-school giveaway drawings for backpacks filled with school supplies.

During the year, Mamie’s Place partners with school librarians to help acquire necessary items the school may not be budgeted to receive. They also partner with teachers to order books that may be within their curriculums.

For a full schedule of events or more information, call the library at 256-234-4644.