Published 11:03 am Saturday, May 18, 2019

Summer reading program will celebrate bicentennial

The Andalusia Public Library is gearing up for its Summer Reading Program that will be all about Alabama’s 200th birthday.

Children’s librarian Caryl Ray said that the overall theme this year is outer space, which ties in perfectly with the theme of the Alabama’s Bicentennial.

“It is Alabama’s Bicentennial, so we are trying to incorporate all things Happy Birthday Alabama, Sweet Home Alabama, Stars Fell on Alabama,” Ray said. “Sam, my helper, and I have been separating stars that we are going to hang on the foyer. Especially with the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville it fits perfectly.”

Ray said that the different crafts that they will do during the week will all be tied to Alabama in some way.

“We want to tie it all in to the history of Alabama,” Ray said. “So we will be using cotton to make string dolls and using a straw to make a rocket fly, just little things like that to tie the two things together. We are hoping to bring Buzz Lightyear in for one of the weeks.”

During the first week’s program, Ray said that they usually do a balloon send off, but this year her assistant Sam Moore came up with an idea.

“He came up with this idea of putting seeds inside of biodegradable balloons,” Ray said. “Then when they float away to different states and different cities they will pop and the seeds will be planted wherever they land. We are calling it ‘Spreading Seeds of Education.’”

Ray has been busy spreading the news across the entire county to make sure everyone knows about the summer program.

“This week I have been to all of the elementary schools,” Ray said. “I went door to door at Straughn Elementary School and passed out 500 calendars and bookmarks on Monday, today I went to Andalusia Elementary School and went door to door and passed about 600 of them. I just want to be able to hit every school in the county so every kid knows about it.”

She said that these summer reading programs are so important for students so they keep their reading skills up during the summer break.

“That is the main reason,” Ray said. “Another reason is that it is economically affordable for parents. I mean, it is a free program, with air conditioning during the heat of the summer and something that their kids will enjoy all summer. It is a chance to come and hang out with some of the kids. It is also a chance for kids to catch up on their required summer reading. We are in touch with the different teachers at the schools that provide a list of summer reading so we find them and set out a little bin for the students to look through.”

Every week there is a performer that will entertain the kids and Ray said that she made sure to pick the best possible ones.

“I met some of them through a workshop that I went to in Montgomery,” Ray said. “And they are all willing to incorporate the Alabama Bicentennial theme into everything they do. We look at a bunch of different performers, but one of the main things that we look for is how well they are at crowd control. We need to have somebody that can keep a child in his or her seat and paying attention without being a total jerk. We also talk with the other local libraries to get some ideas and see if they want to do a joint show to make it easier on the performers.”

For more information call the Andalusia Public Library at 334-222-6612.

Shows begin at 3 p.m., every Thursday in June.