By Elizabeth Perry
Local libraries have come together to fight the “summer slide,” so kids won’t lose the things they learned through the school year.
Mary Hampe, director of the Coraopolis Memorial Library, said their summer reading program is open to everyone in the community.
“Typically we have about 300 people register,” Hampe said. This year she anticipated a “big crowd.”
“It’s a nice time of year,” Hampe said.
With their programming, they try to make reading and visiting the library a fun experience for the kids.
This year, Hampe said her library is putting out its calendar of events to the local elementary and middle schools as well as the borough in hopes of encouraging more participation.
There are all sorts of activities and book clubs for teens as well as adults, she said. Along with STEM programming involving light experiments, music education, and an educational presentation on bats, for the first time this year, the library is offering gardening programs for children and adults.
“We have a new staff member who is a master gardener,” Hampe said.
As part of the national Library Association theme, “All Together Now,” Coraopolis and Crafton libraries are participating in “Chalk the Block With Kindness,” between June 19-23. Both libraries will be giving out chalk and encouraging people to write positive messages about the community.
Gabrielle Backner, the youth services librarian at the Crafton Public Library said the kick-off event would take place at Crafton Park on June 9 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kauffman Shelter, where they’d be signing people up for their summer reading program.
The summer reading program is held every Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., kids can get tickets for prizes for reading.
We’re still getting our activities together, every Friday from June 16 through Aug. 11.
Crafton Park, kick-off event June 9 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Kauffman shelter Gabrielle Backner, youth services librarian, said they had a special program with specific prizes for children aged newborn to 5 – children who are too young to read themselves.
“If parents or caregivers read to the child it counts. You can participate by reading to your child, helping with their development,” Backner said.
At the Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie, summer reading kicks off on June 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with storytime for toddlers and preschoolers. Weekly events will continue throughout the summer, including a zoo animal day and visit with a black rat snake named Mr. McSlithers.
The culmination comes on Aug. 19 with a back-to-school bash and touch-a-truck event.
Summer reading activities will begin on June 13 at the Sheraden Branch of the Carnegie Library with a group called Mad Science that will do a presentation about sounds for the kids.
Sky Hernstrom said his branch was small, but patrons can still register to win prizes for summer reading.
“Kids and teens get a giveaway book when they visit ,” Hernstrom said.
James Facer, the library director at the F.O.R. Sto-Rox Library, said there was a wide variety of educational and enrichment opportunities open to children this summer.
“I think they really rely on us with all the time out of school,” Facer said.
The Sto-Rox Library is offering prizes for those participating in summer reading, Facer said. In fact, the library is having a mid-season prize and a year-end prize. To be eligible, participants need to sign up, and then they can win tickets for each book they read. There are also unique programs being offered at the Sto-Rox Library, like weekly ceramics classes and drumming lessons because of their connection to the Father Ryan Arts Center. There’s also a club to allow kids to use an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and a Nintendo Switch to play games
“We have STEM classes from 3:30 to 5 [p.m.] on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Facer said.
Gabrielle Bolland, youth services librarian at the Robinson Township Library said they are offering “a lot” this year.
“We are back to our pre-pandemic schedule which we’re very excited about,” Bolland said.
“We have a ton of programs throughout the week.”
Those include a toddler maker space, baby lab fit and Tuesday story time for small children, along with Multi-game Mondays and Wacky Wednesdays for children ages 6-12. Those are opportunities for kids to play video games together and do crafts. There will also be outdoor activities on Fridays in Clever Park throughout the summer.
Bolland said there would be presentations from the Carnegie Science Center, Mad Science, and on Wednesday, June 28, animals from the Pittsburgh Zoo are scheduled to visit the library. Bolland also said there were two dance parties scheduled in Clever Park – less educational and more just fun.
“We have a lot, lot going on. We have weekly giveaways for kids 12 and under. Local businesses have donated coupons, tote bags, each will receive a book and a prize drawing for kids and adults, too, who sign up,” Bolland said.
Even though the Robinson Township Library has a lot of community outreach and a packed summer schedule, Bolland said she still runs into people who don’t know that Robinson even has a library.
Robinson Township Library is now fine-free for late returns, Bolland said, in an effort to “knock down barriers for people who may have had fines in the past.”
“They can come back and maybe get a fresh start,” Bolland said.
The Carnegie Library System’s Summer Reading Program kicks off on June 11 with the theme “Find Your Voice,” and ends on Aug. 13 with an extravaganza in Oakland.
Susanne Thinnes, manager of communications for the Carnegie Library System, said between 4,000 to 5,000 people are expected to show up for the end-of-summer reading extravaganza, which will include food trucks and activities for kids. For the first time this year, Thinnes said people could guess how many books were read across the Carnegie Library system summer reading drive. People who guess closest to the actual number are eligible for prizes.