As another summer reading program comes to a close, I am reminded how fortunate we are in Mill Valley to have so many children who love reading and the library. This year, we had more than 600 kids ages 2 to 10 participate in the Everything Under the Sun reading program, promising to read three hours a week. We also had 163 middle school participants in the From the Ground Up reading program, and they logged over 500 books.
Here are some of my favorite moments of summer:
The Middle School Mash-up Concert: To kick-off summer reading for the middle schoolers this year, we put together a concert with middle school and high school kids as the performers. We packed the Main Reading Room on June 20th with middle schoolers, teens, friends and parents of the performers. Tommy Toy was the Master of Ceremony, and introduced each act and reminded kids often to register for summer reading. The kids performed classical, jazz, pop, and traditional music on the piano, trumpet, drums, and guitar. Everyone was blown away by the talent in the room! And, we also registered 55 kids for the middle school summer reading program that night alone.
The Wolf Who Ate the Sky: I love bringing authors and illustrators to the library, especially in the summer. In early July, Mary Daniel Hobson, her daughter Anna, and Anna’s grandfather Charles Hobson came to share the book they wrote and illustrated called The Wolf Who Ate the Sky. When she was three years old, Anna and her mom imagined the story and told it to each other on the way to preschool each day. Anna’s grandpa has worked as an illustrator/book maker his entire career, so he not only created the beautiful illustrations, but also new the publishing industry well. The audience loved hearing about the process of creating this book, and it may have even sparked interest turning one of their stories into a book.
The Forge with Tom Lamar: One of our most “out of the box” programs this summer was bringing Tom Lamar’s portable forge to the library to demonstrate the Art of Blacksmithing. Eighteen middle schoolers came to witness Tom turn steel rods into snails, zig zags, and other bended objects. The Forge made from bricks and fueled by a large propane take reached 2800 degrees. Tom definitely conveyed his love of blacksmithing, and inspired the kids to learn more about it.
Sensory Exploration: Children learn through play, and what better way to play at the library than to make a mess you can’t usually do at home? My favorite Little Sprouts program for children age five and under this year was Sensory Exploration. Kids got to play with bubble wrap, decorate giant boxes, sift and pour dyed rice grains, and “swim” in a pool filled with shredded paper. It was unbelievably fun to watch how some kids would spend ages scooping rice from one bowl and pouring it into another, and other children would themselves in shredded paper or hide in cardboard boxes. It also spurred some wonderful new ideas for parents and caregivers to play with their little ones at home!
Wednesdays on Stage: It’s hard to choose a favorite Wednesday on Stage this summer. In every performance, I saw kids and adults laughing and singing along, and enjoying themselves. All the performers were great at getting the audience involved in their performances. We’ll have many of these performers back again for either a Sunday Special or Wednesday on Stage in the future.
GardenSmart for Kids and Garden Club: For the first time, we offered several programs in our new SmartGarden. Kids in kindergarten through second grade listened to Compost Gal Lori Campbell discuss good and bad garden bugs and examined the huge bucket of compost that was crawling with all kinds of bugs. They also made a portable green house in a bag that they took home to hang in their window to watch it grow. Kier Holmes ran our new Garden Club and chose a different garden-related topic for each meeting. She taught the participants about the redwoods, garden bugs, art in the garden, and native seeds and plants. Garden Club will continue in the fall beginning Monday, September 14 for Grades kindergarten through 3 in four-week cycles.
Elephant & Piggie Party: Our Elephant & Piggie Party was so much fun! More than 50 kids and 30 adults came to hear Sarah Beth (Piggie) and me (Gerald) read a few of our favorite Elephant & Piggie stories, create pig snouts from paper cups, balance a bird’s nest on their heads, throw a ball in a bucket, and make E & P paperbag puppets. Sarah Beth baked and decorated the most adorable Piggie cookies for the kids which they devoured as they left the party. They were delicious!
Summer is always a whirlwind of activity at the Mill Valley Library. We hope the kids enjoy it as much as we do! As school starts, we have our Annual Bookmark Design Contest in September; our after school series Stories & Science for kindergartners and Picture Books & More for first and second graders beginning in October. We’ll offer a new book club for fourth and fifth graders called Books & Bites held on the First Friday of the month beginning October 2. Check our website for more information and our entire line-up of fall programs.