Young readers turn pages on lazy summer days

Story lady Tiffany Ross reads to children gathered for Story Time in the sun-dappled courtyard of the Rourke Art Museum immediately north of Moorhead Public Library. (Photo/Nancy Hanson)

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

These summer days may be the perfect time for young readers to dive into their favorite books, but they’re busier than ever for the staff of Moorhead Public Library – thanks to programs, old and new, to encourage their young patrons to read.

Some, like the Summer Reading Experience, are perennial features of the library calendar. Another, though, is new: The Book Truck, traveling to parks and playgrounds, day cares and other spots where its on-board librarian can connect with little book-lovers.

The tradition of the Summer Library Experience, says public services supervisor Jenny Rodger, goes back well before she joined the staff eight years ago. Every Wednesday at 2 p.m., SLE draws elementary-age children from 6 to 12 into the air-conditioned facility, where staff and guest presenters tackle a wide agenda of topics and activities to tantalize young tastes.

The program, which began with a pet show June 8, has two weeks to go. Upcoming dates include a postcard party July 21 – where children will compose and mail postcard greetings to their friends – and a chance to help finger-paint a mural that will be displayed in the library July 28.

According to Jenny, from 30 to 80 youngsters take part in the weekly sessions. Among this summer’s past programs are a session on growing zucchini and another exploring immigrant life in Clay County.

Another side of the summer experience is the annual reading program, dubbed “Explore! Tales and Trails.” Jenny explains that children have already picked up take-home reading logs or participate online. The goal is to read 20 minutes a day for 30 days. Those who complete the challenge earn a tote bag or T shirt featuring the library’s owlish mascots, Booker and little Booklet. The program wraps up July 31.

Story Time is the summer variant of the library’s year-round read-aloud programming. Youngsters and parents gather in the brick-walled courtyard of the Rourke Art Museum (just across the library parking lot) for stories and brief activities. Two sessions are held each week – one at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the other at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. They continue at least the end of August. Each day’s final highlight may be even more popular than the stories themselves – a big burst of bubbles from the library’s bubble machine.

The new star of the Moorhead library’s summer offerings is its colorful new Book Truck. After the city donated a mothballed paratransit bus, the staff and volunteers remodeled and redecorated it inside and out. The truck travels around Moorhead, Dilworth and Glyndon from Monday to Thursday. The full schedule is updated daily online at larl.org/booktruck. “The Book Truck carries materials for all ages, but children are our main demographic,” Jenny says. “It just calls to them.”

The collection of books for borrowing varies from week to week. When the truck makes guest appearances at special events, it is stocked with a selection that matches the event’s theme – titles about cars at Cruise Night and ice cream for stops at The Freez and the downtown Dairy Queen. 

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