South Coastal unveils summer reading programming

The South Coastal Library is inviting community members to “Escape the Ordinary” this summer, with a wide array of summer programming that offers everyone in the family something fun to do at their local library.

“It’s a way to keep your mind moving during the summer — you’re reading, you’re learning, you’re experiencing,” said Susanne Keefe, director of the South Coastal Library. “Summer is our big party.”

Reading programs run from June 1 to Aug. 14 and can be done in person or this year, for the first time, online.

“Last year, we had over 500 kids sign up, and about half of them finish,” said Keefe. “We hope that this year, being able to do it online will increase the number of them that finish. They can even print out their certificate when they’re done. So we’re hoping this helps the kids that aren’t here the whole way through.

“It may help some of the adults, too. We’re starting to tell people they can do it both ways — the paper blogs, or if it’s easier for you, you can go online.”

“Every Hero Has a Story” is the theme for the children’s program, for ages 3 to 11. Keefe said young readers will be encouraged to find the story of the heroes around them — two-footed and four-footed.

Kids entering preschool through third grade must read for a total of 10 hours to complete the program, while kids in fourth through seventh grades must read for a total of 20 hours.

Those who complete the program through paper reading logs or online will receive a printed receipt, along with a prize (while supplies last).

Teen participants, ages 12 to 18, are being invited to participate in the “Unmask!” reading program. Those who sign up can read anything of their choice at their reading level, for a total of 1,000 pages, and complete a brief book review for each title they read. Once they reach the 1,000-page goal and completed their reviews, they will earn prizes, a T-shirt, a book and a certificate of completion.

To give the teen readers a fun start to the summer, on June 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the library will host a Teen Summer Reading Program Kick-Off Party.

“It’s a very popular event,” said Keefe, noting that it’s the perfect opportunity for teens to sign up for the program. “It’s for ages 12 to 18. There are things to do while they’re there. They’ll be games set out; the Wii will be set out.

“It’s a nice way for the kids to get to meet each other, because they usually don’t. Then, of course, we have summer kids who are only down for the summer. It’s a social gathering, but it also gets them excited and started in on the reading program.”

Those teens who wish to attend must preregister in order to participate.

Along with the reading program, the library offers a variety of interactive programs for youth.

Teen artists are being invited to participate in the library’s 7th Annual Art Show, opening on July 2 at 7 p.m.

“It’s a juried art show for the teens,” said Keefe. “The art can be 2D or 3D, because we have kids that paint and draw, but then there are some who are interested in sculpture and things like that. It’s usually quite interesting. There’s a lot of talent out there.”

Keefe said the library is hoping to have local artists judge the show. Prizes will be awarded to the artists of the three best overall entries on opening night, with the first-place prize being a $50 gift card to Michael’s craft store.

The entry deadline is July 6, before 8 p.m. Entry forms may be picked up at the library or found online.

Craft programs will be offered on June 23, July 7, and Aug. 4 for teens to create a model lighthouse, owl windsock and carnival mask, respectively. All craft materials are provided free of charge, and kids are reminded to wear craft-appropriate clothing.

On June 25, a juggling workshop will be held to teach them how to juggle. On June 30, Dave Warick, Sussex Central High School drama teacher and founder of Delaware Comedy Theatre, will teach an acting workshop. July 9, a Personal Safety & Self-Defense workshop will be held. Budding artists are being invited to attend a “How to Draw Super Heroes” on June 28, hosted by professional cartoonist Paul Merklein.

In June, July and August, the library will also host Minecraft and Team Jeopardy games. The library will also host movie and ice cream nights, inviting teens to enjoy a free movie, popcorn and ice cream.

Other programs include “Heroes All Around,” a talk on Aug. 8 at 10:30 a.m. for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. The talk is presented by the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation, where kids can learn about magnetics, air pressure and gravity. In-person registration is required to attend.

“We focus on kids and teens because they’re out of school. They’re booked tighter than we are, so it’s really hard to get them in the school year, because they’re so busy,” said Keefe. “This is when we go all-out to provide programming for the kids and the teens. Plus, we want to keep them reading during the summer.”

The library offers many more programs, including concerts and art programs, promising kids will always have something to do at their local library.

“It’s great to see the kids come in and get totally immersed in the art programs. Everybody learns in a different way, so you’re always learning, even if you don’t think you are.”

The adult reading program’s theme is “Escape the Ordinary,” and adults 18 or older are being challenged to read 10 books or magazines or listen to 10 CD books.

Those who complete the challenge will receive a certificate and prize. As a bonus, those adults who complete one book review may earn a $1 coupon good to pay any library fines. Participants may complete up to three book reviews and receive up to three coupons to use toward fines. Portions of the $1 coupon cannot be credited or refunded, coupons may be used at South Coastal Library only, and coupons must be used by Sept. 30.

Keefe said approximately 40 adults registered for the program last year, with a little more than half completing the program.

Additional adult programming includes concerts and a variety of history talks, such as the Aug. 6 Revolutionary War Spies talk at 6 p.m., presented by Ken Daigler, a retired CIA operations officer and author. Daigler will discuss U.S. intelligence efforts during the Revolutionary War and their role in defeating the British.

“We are a community center. There is no other place to go, really, to have free access to materials, to all the programming,” said Keefe, noting that it’s not unusual to reset the meeting room three times a day during the summer months.

“The cultural part of the library is a very big demand on us. They value it very highly. They want to have dance classes. They want to hear science programs. They love the history programs.”

Keefe said it is through the efforts of the Friends of the South Coastal Library, supported by their annual book sales and Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, the library is able to offer such a range of programming for all ages.

“Were lucky, because our Friends group funds almost all of our programming. We could not do this without them.”

Those interested in hearing about the library’s upcoming programs are encouraged to stop by the library and pick up a brochure.

“Some programs are limited in space and require preregistration,” reminded Keefe.

While anyone, with or without a library card, may take advantage of the library’s programming, one is required to check out materials and gain computer access.

“If they want to get a library card to check out items, that’s great. If they are a Delaware resident or own property in the state, the card is free. If they are a non-resident, they have two options — either $25 for a year or we have a $10-a-month card for people who are here for the short term.”

Keefe encouraged residents and visitors to visit their local library and enjoy the great resources it has to offer.

“There’s plenty for them to do here, watch here, and read here. By all means, drop on in and see what we have. Heaven knows, there’s something for everyone here.”

The South Coastal Library is located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach and can be reached by calling (302) 539-5231. For more information or to register for any of the reading programs, visit