Bethany library summer programs offer something for everyone

Although school is out for the summer, it doesn’t mean it’s time to close up those books. The South Coastal Library is continuing to hold their Summer Reading Program, for library patrons ranging from children to adults.

This year’s program theme revolves around discovering and exploring the world of science.

“Every year, there’s a committee that gets together and chooses the theme. It’s a nationwide program that I think is pretty cool,” said Sharon Palmer, children’s services coordinator. “This year’s theme incorporates all kinds of literacy, from biology to building rockets, robots, cooking — anything related to science.”

The “Power Up with Books!” program is designed to prepare children from age 3 to third grade for success by developing language skills. Participants read for 10 hours and keep time on a Reading Log.

The “Celebrate Science!” program helps build reading and language skills for children in grades 4 through 7. Participants read for a total of 20 hours and write the titles of the books read in a Reading Log.

Children who turn in completed logs for either programs earn a certificate, a “Fizz, Boom, Read!” T-shirt, a gift book and a surprise.

“They have a reading log. Each time they read for 15 minutes or are read to, they cross off a symbol on their log,” explained Palmer. “The children between ages 3 through third grade, are asked to read for 10 hours. Children grades 4 through 7 are asked to read for 20 hours.”

Palmer said that, last year, more than 400 children signed up to participate. She added that it’s important to keep children reading year-round, especially when they’re out of school.

“They have found that, especially during the summer months when kids are not in school, those who keep reading through the summer do better when they return to school. Early literacy impacts every aspect of their life, as far as education and communicating with others.”

Aside from the Summer Reading Program, the library also holds storytime for the Baby Bookworms, ages 2 to 3 years, on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 10:30 a.m.; and for preschoolers, ages 4 to 5 years, 10:45 to 11:15 a.m., and a combined storytime group on Saturdays from 9:30 to 10 a.m.

Kids may also participate in the “A Book that Shaped Me” program, organized by the Library of Congress for children going into 5th and 6th grades.

“They read a book that they feel shaped their life and write a one-page essay about that and submit that to me. Then, all of the entries are sent down to the Library of Congress, where a winner will be voted on,” she explained. “There are prizes that are given at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Last year, there was a winner from Delaware. That’s something that we’ve not done before.”

The library also hopes to help children with their math, with a new program called “Bedtime Math.”

“Children can register to have a math problem sent to their email address. They come to the library and get a packet that has a constellation chart and stickers. After they complete the math problem and fill up the chart, they bring the chart back and get a prize,” said Palmer.

“I think that’s a real critical age to continue to read and to write. The math is for all ages, even little ones that are counting on their fingers on up. It gives the kids another way to not only read their math problem but to continue to work on math through the summer.”

“Spark a Reaction,” the reading program for children 12 to 18 years old, allows participants to read anything of their choice, at their grade level, for a total of 1,000 pages. A brief book review is required for each title they read. Prizes, a T-shirt, a gift book and a certificate are given when the activities have been completed.

“They write a very brief book review. They put down whether they think it was — a one-star or a five-star book — and a little description of why they did or didn’t like it,” explained Bernadette Hemingway, teen services coordinator.

Hemingway said that the program grows in participants every year. She added that teens don’t have to sign up for the Summer Reading Program to enjoy the library’s vast variety of programs.

“For those who have come before, we do offer 20-something different programs that they can take part in, whether they’re signed up for the summer reading program or not,” she said.

“We have crafts and games. Something new this year is the Mad Scientist Club. They are fun activities exploring different scientific concepts. For example, we’ll be doing alternative energy and making batteries out of lemons and pennies and things like that. It’s to give them a little more of the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] principles.

“It’s not school,” she emphasized. “It’s a fun activity introducing some science and technology. I hope it’s going to be very well received. What we do here helps reinforce what they’re doing in school.”

The Summer Reading Program isn’t just for kids, either — adults 18 and older can experiment with Literary Elements. A reading log must be completed and a prize will be given to all participants.

“I ask people to read 10 books, magazines or even listen to an audio book. I try to broaden it for the adults, so that it’s not like being back in school, so that you can enjoy reading. And you get a little prize at the end,” said Barbara Litzau, assistant director. “Hopefully, it brings people to the library and they can see all that we have to offer.”

Litzau said that each adult who participates can write up to three book reviews to receive a special prize.

“It’s not a challenging book review. It’s more like a recommendation, because you can rate it one through five — five being the highest — and then, if you care to put some comments, you can. I plan to post those throughout the library,” she said. “For each review they turn in, up to three, they can get one coupon worth up to a dollar of their fines waved.”

The dollar coupon per review toward waiving late fees will only be valid at South Coastal Library. Participants cannot receive credit for any unused amount, and they must be used by Sept. 30.

“It might help some people out with some late movies or something,” she said with a laugh.

Litzau said that there’s something for everyone at the public library, and she hopes that, during the summer months, kids and adults will take advantage of all the wonderful programming they have to offer.

“I think it’s important but I also try to make it a fun thing. It keeps you reading though the summer.”

For additional information, contact the South Coastal Library at (302) 539-5231 or visit South Coastal Library is located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach.