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Kids bored already? Reading programs start this week

Youngsters react happily when watching a magician during last summer’s reading program. Andalusia’s program gets under way this Thursday.

School is out, but the learning is just getting started – at the area public libraries, that is.

Throughout the county, libraries are gearing up for their summer reading programs.

In Andalusia, students can “Dive in to Reading.”

Caryl Lee Jackson, children’s librarian, said the program is open to children of all ages and will kick off Thursday when Birmingham’s McWane Science Center presents “Wet n Wild” lessons on water at 3 p.m.

“We will also participate in a balloon lift to kick off the summer program Thursday,” Jackson said. “We encourage all children to meet us outside a little before 3 p.m. to release the balloons.”

Jackson said the library has been sponsoring the summer program for “as long as she can remember.”

“We’re doing it to promote reading,” she said. “It’s more than a tradition. It’s free and with the economy is offers a good place for children to go. We encourage children from all over the county to participate

The reading program special features will last the entire month of June and the first Thursday in July.

“Russell Davis, the magician will be here June 10, and will be also have (Meredith’s Miracles’ Cookies with Characters) Spongebob here for the children to take pictures with,” Jackson said. “The cost is free.”

The year-round preschool story time will continue throughout the summer.

“On June 11, district attorney Greg Gambril will talk to the children about stranger safety and child abuse,” she said.

Other programs throughout the summer will include a karate demonstration by Mark Rudd, a storytelling experience with Jennifer Dansby and children will have the opportunity to learn about water and electricity safety with PowerSouth’s Safety City demonstration July 1.

There will be a pirate costume contest June 24 when Dansby entertains.

Jackson said she is expecting to draw a large crowd.

“Last year, we averaged 150 people,” she said. “And we hope to see more this year.”

In addition to the Thursday programs, Jackson said there will be an annual art contest and photography contest.

“The art contest is open for children ages 4-6; 7-9, and 10-12,” she said. “Any medium will be accepted. Winning artwork will be hung in the library for a year. Other artwork will be donated to Savannah Terrace residents.”

The artwork must be turned in by June 30.

The photo contest will center on Mark Twain’s novels to go along with the “Big Read.”

Jackson said she hopes the contest exhibits will let their prints reflect scenes from Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, which could include water, nature, rafts, fences, graveyards, frogs and caves.

“The contest is for amateur photographers ages 13-18,” Jackson said. “The photographs may be black and white or color. The photographs may not be of people.”

The deadline to submit these entries is July 31 and the winning photographs will hang in the library for a year.

“Last year we had some really pretty work,” she said.

In Opp, registration for the Opp Public Library’s summer reading program began Tuesday and will run through June 11.

“Reading independently will run through June 23, when Skip the Magic Man will be here at 10 a.m.,” director Gail Clare said. “In July, we’ll have reading and crafts and games. We’ll also have a wet day.”

Clare said the program days will be July 12, 14, 16, 19, 21 and 23.

“The program is open to everybody. We have two different program times. Kindergarten through second grade is at 10 a.m. and grades 3-8 are at 2 p.m. They will be held three time per week,” she said. “They need to start reading and recording their books.”

Clare said there are special groups of books that count for more points.

“We give prizes at the end of the program based on how many points the children accumulate,” she said. “Everyone ends up getting a prize but they vary. Last year we were able to give $25 to the top 10 readers. I hope we are able to do that again.”

Clare said the Opp merchants donate the prizes the library gives away.

Children in Florala can “Make a Splash” at the Florala Public Library’s summer reading program.

The program is for children in grade kindergarten through fourth grade.

Cordelia Waldrop, FPL director, said the program will kick off Thursday at 10 a.m. with the McWane Center and will continue for four weeks.

“We have some others lined up to do stories and crafts,” she said. “We give them all kinds of goodies. This first week we are giving out dictionaries, and I’ve ordered other things.”

Waldrop said those who complete the Florala program will receive a certificate at the end of the four weeks.