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Sanibel library to blast off into ‘A Universe of Stories’

By Staff | May 21, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED The Sanibel Public Library will host its Summer Reading Program Kick-Off Party on May 25 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The theme for this year's annual program is “A Universe of Stories.”

Teens, children and little ones are invited to stop by the Sanibel Public Library this weekend to celebrate the start of the annual summer reading program and to register to participate.

The library will host the Summer Reading Program Kick-Off Party on May 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with this year’s theme of “A Universe of Stories.” The program, which encourages youth to enjoy and continue reading over the summer and features unique activities, enables participants to earn free books for themselves and for patients at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

“Summer reading programs encourage children to read for pleasure while helping to prevent the ‘summer slide’ – loss of the previous school year’s reading gains,” Youth Services Librarian Deanna Evans said. “It gives parents and children opportunities to bond while reading together to help strengthen pre-reading and reading skills.”

The party will feature games, raffles with prizes, snacks and socializing.

“The kids are just happy to be here and see each other,” she said.

Open to all ages, the program will run through Aug. 3.

“It’s for babies all the way through senior year of high school,” Evans said. “It’s open to the pubic. Anyone can take part in the program, whether they have a library card or not.”

Participants who sign up at the party will receive a special gift.

“Past sign-up gifts have been beach towels, hats, bags, water bottles,” she said.

Last summer, 70 youths registered at the kickoff and a total of 239 took part in the program.

PHOTO PROVIDED Experience “Jurassic World” in virtual reality on May 24 at the Sanibel Public Library.

“Last year and the year before were pretty even,” Evans said of participation, noting that last year the library was closed for a few weeks. “Since I started here, the number of participants has increased.”

In the program, youth can read to earn books for their home libraries and for hospital patients. The Sanibel Public Library Foundation matches each book “earned” with a book for the patients. Last year 1,202 books were “earned” for the hospital. Since its inception in 2012, participants have helped to contribute more than 8,000 books to the hospital.

“When they read for a certain number of hours or perform a select amount of activities, they earn a book,” she said. “When they earn a book that is matched with a book for a child at the hospital.”

Participants get to choose from a variety of age-appropriate subjects and series, from board books and children’s books for the smaller children, to young adult novels and such for older youths and teens.

“The predominance of the books are from Scholastic, ordered specifically for the summer program,” Evans said, adding that there are also gently-used library books, plus new and used donated titles.

“Nate the Great,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” Owl Diaries” and “Pete the Cat” are some picks.

The program is funded in part by a grant from the library foundation’s Joan Hunt Cory Children’s Fund. The fund was established in 2008 to honor longtime library volunteer and supporter Joan Hunt Cory.

Instead of paper logs for tracking reading and activities, the library offers Beanstack – an online platform to record the tasks. Beanstack also offers personalized book recommendations and tools for learning. Sign up from a smart phone or other device; a free Apple and Android app is available.

“For every hour they read, they earn a badge on Beanstack. At certain hours, they will also earn a book,” she said. “On the Beanstack too it can monitor the amount of time. It has a timer on it.”

Evans noted that families can register one child or multiple children.

“Reading includes listening to books, as well. We have Hoopla for that, which is great,” she said, explaining that it is one of the online subscription services available for library card holders.

“They can read magazines. As long as they’re reading,” Evans added.

Youths unable to attend the Kick-Off Party can sign up in-person at the library at any time or on the library’s Web site at sanlib.org by clicking on the “Youth” link. Staff can also assist with sign ups.

“They can sign up any time during the summer,” she said.

In addition to reading, the library will offer a mix of activities to go along with the program.

“We have some new presenters this year, as well as some old favorites,” Evans said.

Some of the new presenters will include the Do Dads and Tampa Bay Bats, plus foam sculpture, slime making, and trifles with Ms. Betsy. One of the returning favorites is storyteller Windell Campbell.

“We’ll be doing Monday movie matinees at 1 o’clock,” she said.

VIP After Hours for teens will be held on Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m.

“We’ll be doing virtual reality, among other things,” Evans said.

Starting on June 3, Family Storytime will take place on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. for young readers and their caregivers. Reading to Bessie will be held on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. with Bessie, a bearded collie and Reading Education Assistance Dog.

Also, there is a chance for teens to earn community services hours through the summer program.

Families and youths are encouraged to swing by for the kick-off event.

“It’s summer, you can read what you want,” she said. “And if you don’t have a library card, it’s OK. You can still read the books and come to the programs.”

“There’s new books to earn for themselves, and it’s a wonderful thing to be reading for others,” Evans added. “The hospital is so grateful to our readers for doing this every year. It makes such a difference.”

Library cards are available to residents of Sanibel and Lee County at no charge.

Visitor library cards are available for a $10 annual fee.

The Sanibel Public Library is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

For more information, contact 239-472-2483 or devans@sanlib.org.

The Sanibel Public Library is at 770 Dunlop Road.