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Area bookshops, libraries offer ways to enjoy summer reading on the islands

By Staff | Jun 19, 2009

It’s hot, hazy and well not a lot going on out here.

Welcome to summer time on the islands.

During the fall and winter months, art and cultural events fill the days and the mild temperatures beckon residents and visitors to indulge in outdoor activities.

But the muggy, quiet days don’t have to equate to endless boredom. Now’s the time to grab a summer book and head to a shady nook on the lanai or a covered spot on the beach and read.

Many locals and visitors looking for some relaxation delight in finding a delicious read or audio tape and wiling away the hot hours on the islands.

“Where else would you go?” said Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce Marketing Manager Bridgit Stone-Budd.

Stone-Budd said the Chamber staff receive many requests for quiet places to relax – some specifically just to read.

“I think it’s a great thing to do in the summer,” said Sanibel resident and Islander book reviewer Nola Theiss. “We tend to slow down in the summer because so many of our friends go away.”

Theiss said she uploads books electronically on her iPod to listen to while she is working out or on the beach.

And it seems reading is not going out of style – especially with a shaky economy and more folks looking for simple pleasures closer to home.

Margaret Mohundro, the executive director for the Sanibel Public Library, said she has noticed an increase in the amount of people coming to the island this time of year compared to last year.

She said she also notices lots of patrons whiling away the hot afternoons flipping through the library’s extensive collection of magazines and newspapers.

“It’s a nice setting to spend some time.

Mohundro said the library has summer programs for children and teens. For teens there is VIP Hour from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. During the program teens get the chance to socialize and play games such as WII with their peers. The library also has a collection of books geared for young adults. The point is to allow youths to socialize while learning as well. The library is putting forth a lot of effort into its Summer Reading Program for children which kicked off Saturday.

“Be Creative @ Your Library” is this year’s theme for Pre-K fifth-graders. Children will be asked to read for 20 minutes a day, five days a week. They can record their reading times on a chart provided by the Library. When they come to the library at the end of the week, they will receive a prize based on their completed reading, according to press reports.

Every Tuesday at 3 p.m. children are invited to attend special programs including the likes of Magic by John, John Storm’s World of Reptiles and Page Turner Adventures, magical storyteller Scott Humston.

The Seventh Annual Mini Parade Float Contest, will be held on June 30th in celebration of the 4th of July.

Teens and ‘Tweens can take part in the Teen Summer Reading Program, “Express Yourself @ Your Library”. The program is for sixth-graders and older.

“It’s important that school age children keep reading during the summer to maintain what they learned during the school year,” Mohundro said.

And keeping it fun is key to the program’s success. For instance John Storm’s World of Reptiles will be giving a show on July 14th. The show is designed to ignite children’s interest and imagination about reptiles and hopefully spur them to want to read about them. Other initiatives to read such as pizza parties are part of the summer reading program, Mohundro said.

The Sanibel Library also has displays with staff favorites for adults and just recently the check-out times for new books has been extended from one to two weeks, Mohundro said.

“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Mohundro said.

Though the library staff is looking to add beach reads to its shelves and racks, Mohundro prefers patrons take their borrowed books onto lanais or a hammock as compared to the beaches. Sand and water has damaged library books before, Mohundro said.

But for those who just want something they can grab and take to the beach or where ever, the library is holding its annual dollar bag sale. For a dollar people can buy as many books as they can fit into their bag. For those who wish, the library has bags available.

The bag sale is open to everybody – Lee County residents and visitors. All of the proceeds go to the Sanibel Public Library Foundation. The non-profit foundation supports library programs such as the children’s summer reading events.

For information on programs or the Sanibel Public Library Foundation, Inc. please contact us at 239-472-2483. the library is located at 770 Dunlop Road.

At the Captiva Memorial Library, though a much smaller library, staff have created an extensive summer reading section for children. They also are participating in the library’s summer reading program for children “Be Creative @ Your Library” programs and events.

In addition to these programs, kids will receive prizes based on how many books they read throughout the summer, including toys and books.

Preschoolers who can’t read yet are also welcome to participate – with the help of an adult tracking the books they look at. More information about the children’s reading program is available at the library.

Aside from the prizes and initiatives there will also be a special program every Thursday at 3 p.m., beginning on Thursday, June 18 and lasting until July 23. One program will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 11.

The programs include “Showtime for Kids: Rootin, Tootin, Reading Round-up” on June 18, “Wildlife of Southwest Florida” on June 25, “Wild Wizard Show” on July 2, “Papier Mache with DiVitto Kelly” on July 11, “Out of my Hands Juggling” on July 16 and “Get Magically Creative @ Your Library” on July 23. For more information about the library’s upcoming summer programs, call 472-2133.

The Captiva Memorial Library is located at 11560 Chapin Lane.

Area island book stores carry the latest hot bestsellers and some like the Sanibel Island Bookshop feature a recommended reading display.

“People come in just for our recommended books,” said store manager Rebecca Binkowski. On the list is Lisa See’s “Shanghai Girls” which follows the lives of two sisters who leave Shanghai and settle in California with prominent western men. The book shop makes its recommendations from information from customers, the staff and Book Sense an independent booksellers association, Binkowski said.

Susie Holly, owner of MacIntosh Books and Papers, recommends light beach-themed fiction and non-fiction for the summer. Books surrounding friendship and relationships tend to be popular summer reads. And despite a highly technical age – books have not lost their popularity as a way to relax and get away from it all.

“It’s one of the most inexpensive forms of entertainment,” Holly said.

The Island Book Nook located off of Palm Ridge Road, carries an array of reads including shelves of paperbacks. Store owners Melanie Wiford and Jan Wiford offer an exchange program for paper backs. The relaxed, friendly environment and the presence of four-legged mascot, Shiloh, a Jack Russell Terrier makes the store a popular draw for visitors and residents.

A number of well-read authors books are available at area book shops and libraries. Christine Lemmon’s “Sand in My Eyes” is considered by book shop owners to be an entertaining, good beach read. Local author Charlie Sobczak who has his newest book “Living Sanibel” – a nature guide – due out by the end of November offers a few suggestions to readers looking for a summer book.

He said “A Land Remembered” by Patrick Smith is “just a killer good read”.

“It’s a great old Florida book,” Sobczak said. And “The World Without Us” offers up scenarios of life on Earth without people. The History Channel created a TV show from the book.

“It was a real interesting read,” he said.