Sitka Creations is happy to share another blog from it’s Arts + Culture blogger Anna Marie. Anna Marie lives on Martha’s Vineyard and is a featured blogger for Sitka Creations. Enjoy! Please feel free to leave your comments below.
Children Blast Off To Worlds Unknown
By Anna Marie D’Addarie
How many books does it take to get to Venus? Just ask one of the children signed up for the Summer Reading Program at the Oak Bluffs Public Library. He or she will gladly tell you it takes exactly one hour of reading to reach Venus.
More than 100 children have jumped on the “Starship Adventure” at the Oak Bluffs library, joining the thousands of other children across Massachusetts to be part of the annual Summer Reading Program. Families who summer on the Vineyard take advantage of this great program, packing their children’s school reading lists along with the sunscreen. One young girl eagerly signed up with two very tired looking parents in tow. Her mother said, “She insists we stop at the library as soon as we get off the ferry. We haven’t even been to the house yet.” Sounds a bit unbelievable but similar stories can be told by librarians state-wide as children line up to read books all summer long. Not to be outdone by summer people, Island children can’t wait to join the ranks of readers and usually win the top prizes, such as having your own shelf at the library. Last year’s winner filled her shelf with her favorite books and decorated it with pictures too.
This year’s theme of interplanetary travel has lured in young readers and given Children’s Librarian, Jessica Bower, a chance to decorate the Children’s Room with fun, space-y items. A large, round Mylar spaceship sit atop one of the reading tables, its portholes are cut out and the “astronauts” are stuffed animals. Ms. Bower’s original idea was to have children use the tent-like spaceship to sit in and read, but after putting it together she didn’t feel it was big enough so she filled it with stuffed animals. The children love to play with it. Above the circulation desk in the bright Children’s Room hangs a mobile of all the planets in our solar system. Library Aide Allison Brown put it together from a kit. There are many other out-of-this-world decorations but the real stars are the books.
For those of you who think the Harry Potter series is unique you probably don’t have children. Any child with a library card can rattle off authors and book titles from their favorite series’ such as Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” or “Warriors” by Erin Hunter, the “Twilight” saga by Stephanie Meyer, or “The Vampire Diaries” by L.J. Smith. Harry Potter may be the bestselling children’s series, but he certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on the hearts and minds of young readers.
So, how do you get to Mars, Mercury, or the farthest planet, Neptune? You read and read and read. The Summer Reading Program is simple. For every hour you read you get closer to a planet (Venus is the first destination). The more hours you read, the more planets you visit, the more prizes you win. The program goes from July 1 through August 30 and is open to children of all ages, even the very young. Pre-readers can participate by being read to by a parent, guardian, or sibling. Children track their hours on a book list and parents place their initials next to the total. When the children come to the library they add their hours to a card that is kept at the circulation desk. The library staff encourages the children, discusses the books with them, and recommends other titles.
This summer Ms. Bower has enlisted the aid of the Black Dog Kids (the children’s line of the popular Black Dog company). If the Oak Bluffs summer readers read 800 hours collectively Black Dog Kids will adopt a polar bear through the World Wildlife Fund. As our planet changes, the polar bears struggle to survive. Our children can make a difference by opening a book, or many books, this summer. I have no doubt they will reach this target.
Many other Oak Bluffs businesses have generously donated prizes. These businesses are: Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, The Corner Store, Flying Horses Carousel, Glimpse of Tibet, Giordano’s Family Restaurant, Good Ship Lollipop Candy Store, Hair by Dana, Mary’s Linen Store, Reliable Market, Rose Bud Balloons, and Dinghy Dogs. I feel it is important to recognize all these businesses who stepped up in these difficult and uncertain times, many of them are small, family-owned stores. The free ice cream cones, hot dogs, and balloons are symbols of neighborhood generosity and what makes the Vineyard such a special place to live.
Think about these young summer readers when you are picking up your light, beach read or revisiting “The Great Gatsby.” The love of reading starts early but it’s never too late to soar to places far away. They are as close as your local library.
For more information on the Oak Bluffs Public Library visit: www.oakbluffslibrary.org