Every June, the library kicks off the Summer Reading Program with a party chock full with games, activities, entertainment and fun for the whole community. Last year, the theme was Reading Rocks, this year it's going to be a Barnyard Bonanza. Daily Record file photo by Denise Cathey
Summer at the Library
Every summer the San Marcos Public Library kicks off their extensive list of summer activities and reading programs for kids, but this year the library’s got something for everyone.
Children’s Summer Programs
This year attendees to the annual Summer Reading Program Kick-Off might want to grab their boots and work gloves and get ready for a Barnyard Bonanza. On Friday, June 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., come celebrate the beginning of summer reading program at the library. Kids can get a close-up look at farm animals, square-dancing lessons, barnyard games and old-fashioned country crafts.
According to Library Division Manager Suzanne Sanders, the idea to have a Barnyard Bonanza, “all started with a cow,” specifically the Southwest Dairy Farmers Mobile Dairy Classroom cow that is used to demonstrate how dairy is produced. Along with the Mobile Dairy Classroom, there will be Cracker Jack the horse, fancy chickens from Fancy Feathers and the City of San Marcos will be bringing cats and dogs from the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter.
Crafts will include making corn husk dolls, clucking cup chickens, animal masks and the Busy Bee quilting group will be helping make bandanas. Activities and games will include corn hole, other yard games and square dancing led by Wheel-N-Deals Square Dance Club.
The library’s Summer Reading Program runs from June 7 through Aug. 14 and, according to Sanders, was created to help children maintain and improve their reading comprehension skills throughout the summer.
“We wanted to stop that summer slide for kids where they slide back on reading scale, and that’s the whole purpose of this is to get people excited about reading again,” she said. “Reading sparks the imagination, that’s what reading is all about, using your imagination to create a world — whether it’s a barnyard bonanza or anything — we’re just helping get a jumpstart on their imaginations.”
The library will host an array of events over the summer aimed at keeping children’s imaginations and reading skills engaged. On Thursday, June 20 the library will host Zoomagination. Children will have the opportunity to meet live mammals, birds and reptiles. Free tickets are available at the library.
On Saturday, July 13 at 2 p.m., Jedi and Sith will collide at the library with an interactive Jedi experience by Jakku Temple, a Lucasfilm-recognized Star Wars performance group. And on Aug. 6 and 7, the Starlab Mobile Planetarium will offer library patrons a cosmic experience while learning about the wonders of the night sky, with six shows over two days.
The San Marcos Public Library is also launching a set of programs this summer that gives local teens the opportunity to learn new skills, explore new interests and create.
Every Monday from 3- 5 p.m., the library will host The Anime Club. The Anime Club actively explores peer-recommended animes, manga novels and Japanese pop culture through food, drinks and entertainment.
Teens can have a chance to explore their creative side on Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. this summer at the library’s Maker Club. Each session will feature a different craft or project and attendees are encouraged to create their own designs.
Teens that want to improve their writing skills this summer can join the Writing Club that will meet four times this summer — June 19, July 3, 17 and 31 — with four separate published authors signed up to be guest speakers. The goal of the Writer’s Club is to help attendees improve the quality of their writing by discussing elements of writing such as character development, motivation, conflict and hook as well as handling critiques.
Potterheads will have a chance to display their acumen and breadth of knowledge about the magical world of Harry Potter at the Harry Potter Trivia Night from 6:30-7:30 p.m. July 31. Bring a team of no more than our players to test your trivia knowledge. Snacks will be provided and prizes will be awarded to the first place team. The trivia night is open to Potterheads of all ages.
Teens can also take time this summer to join the library’s Starteen program, which aims at incorporating teens into a community staple like the library and giving them the opportunity to learn real-life skills. Teens will work alongside each other in a group during at least one shift a week that is approximately three hours. According to Public Outreach Librarian Deborah Carter, the teens are an integral part of the libraries operation during the busy summer months.
“In the summer, things go wild and we have a circus of a library — full of programs and more than a thousand people a day coming for those programs — and we rely on the teens to staff those programs,” Carter said. “The teens help organize all these kids coming through, they give out reading logs, they stamp reading logs and they inform kids and parents about programs, hand out calendars, they'll organize crafts, man stations and programs. They are an integral part of running such a high volume summer reading program and we need them.”
Those interested in registering to become a Starteen can stop by the library to fill out a form.
“Parents like it because they know that their kids are doing something helpful in the community in a safe capacity, they’re making friends and learning new skills,” Carter said. “Teens like it because they’re having a lot of fun and they’re meeting new people and they’re learning about what it takes to create programming at the library.”
Teens must be between the ages of 12 and 17 to join any of the teen programs at the library unless otherwise specified.
Adult Summer Reading Game
This summer, the library isn’t just for out-of-school kids, according to Carter.
“Our primary activity during the summer is to really engage kids with reading and the joy of reading, which influences their education for the rest of their lives. This summer, in addition to those things we are doing something special for adults, a game,” Carter said. “So, reading for fun and for prizes is not just for children this year.”
Patrons 18 years of age or older can pick up a game card at the library. Check off any five squares on the card — either horizontally, vertically or diagonally –– for a chance to win an array of prizes including Alamo Drafthouse tickets, gift certificates to local eateries, a one-night stay at the Crystal River Inn bed and breakfast or a Kindle eReader. Game rules include using only one book per category, all book or program titles must be clearly printed in the square and all titles must come from the library’s physical or digital collections.
The categories include all sorts of books and activities from trying a recipe from a cookbook to reading a book by or about a musician to taking a child to a library program or reading an author’s first novel. After completing five tasks in a row, patrons can fill out their contact info on the game card, fold and place it in a prize bucket at the library. Patrons can complete as many cards as they want, until the deadline of July 31. Prize winners will be notified by mid-August.
Carter said that the game can be a way for adults to break out of a reading rut this summer and spend time doing things they enjoy.
“It’s summertime and even though most of us aren’t in school, it’s still a time to think about being more laid back and doing activities we don’t normally do in our normal schedule — things we enjoy, going on vacation, things like that,” Carter said.
For more information on any of the programs at the San Marcos Public Library, call 512-393-8200.