Rural libraries heat up with youth programs

The Walla Walla County Rural Library District aims to bring fun to summer reading.

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In an effort to motivate kids to read, the Walla Walla County Rural Library District is bringing in crystals, dinosaurs, even snakes.

The district’s summer reading program starts this week and branch libraries have schedules full of special events, including crafting, movie nights and visits from the Reptile Man.

Carlotta Richardson, Touchet branch library supervisor, said events like this help make reading more fun for kids once school is out.

“The idea is to keep kids reading through the summer so they’re not backsliding when they go back to school,” she said. “But I want them to have a ton of fun too.”

Libraries will also host special workshops put on by staff from the Pacific Science Center, with funds from Columbia REA. The workshops, which require pre-registration, will be offered in mid-July at all four branch libraries and cover topics like fossils, minerals and rocks.

“We’re able to do a lot more” with grants funding summer programs this year, said Lara Schnick, Prescott librarian.

Of course, summer reading still involves books. Youths who register for the program will get a sheet to mark off time spent reading, with a sticker every 15 minutes for kids 12 and younger and every hour for teens.

Prescott Library has prizes for every five slots marked off, up to a total of 25. After that, youths can fill out additional reading logs to be entered in a drawing for a massive, head-sized cookie. Other libraries in the district will follow a similar structure.

In addition, Prescott youths can submit book reviews to be entered for a grand prize: a Razor scooter for elementary school students, or a Nook for grades 6-9 and 10-12.

Rural libraries also have made efforts to involve teens in their summer reading. Touchet is hosting a teen book club all summer, which has its first meeting on Monday.

Libraries will also feature teen craft projects, such as Prescott’s steampunk top hat evening on June 27. Schnick said she’s worked hard to come up with craft projects that will be challenging and interesting for teens, including the hat night, and a USB lanyard project later in the summer.

“Instead of just doing one craft a week, I’m doing three a week most of the time. That’s huge,” she said.

Prescott’s crafting has been supported by Yancey P. Winans Community Grant, which has helped cover materials and staff time.

Schnick hopes all of these events will get more people enjoying books during the summer.

“The kids that read during the summer, it’s been proved that they stay on track with school, and some of them even surpass their grade level,” she said.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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