The head of youth services at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour found plenty of things to be excited about during an event to kick off the summer reading program Wednesday afternoon.
Lola Snyder’s excitement extended to the arrival of two clowns who were brought in to provide entertainment for some of the estimated 1,000 people who attended the event.
This year’s theme for the summer reading program for children and adults is called “Get in the Game — READ” and revolves around baseball.
The library has had a summer reading program for many years, but a kickoff program was conducted for the first time last year to try to get more people to register.
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Library director Julia Aker said a total of 921 people signed up Wednesday.
The event lasted several hours and offered games, a bouncy slide, a 4-H petting zoo, treats, face painting and an obstacle course. It was free and open to the public.
Snyder wasn’t the only one happy to see the clowns arrive.
“I like the clowns. They are dressed funny, and they’re good at making balloon animals,” Kelsey Estes, 9, of Seymour, said.
Estes’ mother, Staci Estes, also of Seymour, said she was pleasantly surprised by the event.
“I’ve never been to the opening, but it’s a cool experience,” Staci Estes said.
Estes said she had four children, including two teens, who were enjoying the outdoor attractions.
Another mother, Stacy Yates of Seymour, brought her son, Kelan Yates, 8, to the event.
“It’s a good event for kids at the beginning of summer to get them started (reading),” Stacy Yates said.
That’s the main goal of the summer reading program, youth services assistant Kathe McIntosh said.
“Some kids might not want to read during the summer after the reading they do in school, but we need to encourage it,” McIntosh said.
Snyder said the program gives participants an opportunity to read books for fun.
As for summer reading, Stacy Yates said her son enjoys nonfiction the most but didn’t have anything specifically he was planning to read.
Kelan enjoyed the inflatable slide located in the library’s parking lot Wednesday, she said.
The goal of the program this year is to keep participants reading at least 20 minutes each day, Snyder said. That’s different from past years.
“We’re not asking people to read for a lot of time, just read a little each day,” she said.
Participants completing 20 minutes of reading each day can fill out a form provided by the library. After completing a set number of days reading, people can bring the form to the library and use it to enter drawings for prizes.
There are three different age groups for the program, children, teens and adults.
Prizes differ by age group and include board games, movie passes, a drone, a night-out package with Chili’s coupons and movie tickets, a Hoosier basketball package and many more.
McIntosh said the kickoff and summer reading program wouldn’t be possible without a long list of volunteers, sponsors and the Friends of the Jackson County Public Library group.
“We have great volunteers and really great sponsors,” she said. “We’re blessed to have such a supportive community in Seymour.”
Similar events were conducted at the Medora and Crothersville libraries, too.
The huge crowd shows how important the library really is to the community, and that it is a place used for more than just reading and studying, McIntosh said.
“We have so much more. We have technology, and that’s a way to reach out to people that otherwise might never come,” she said, referring to the library’s computer lab and Teen Scene Room. That room is filled with game systems, iPad computers and a Makerspace, where kids can create, invent and learn by making.
The Brownstown Public Library also will conduct a summer reading program. The program includes summer camps for children between the ages of 3 and 6 from June 13 to 17 and for children ages 7 to 9 from June 20 to 24. The camps will run from 10 to 11 a.m.
The goal of the Brownstown Public Library’s reading program is for participants to read a total of 800 pages. For every 200 pages, they will receive a punch on a punch card good for free food from McDonald’s in Brownstown.
“McDonald’s was a big sponsor for us this year,” said Michelle Owens, youth services specialist at the library.
“Ronald McDonald himself will be visiting us (June 7) to put on a program for kindergartners through third grade,” Owens said.
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People wanting to sign up for the Jackson County Public Library’s summer reading program can go to links.myjclibrary.org/summerreading and fill out the form.
Those wishing to register for the Brownstown Public Library summer reading program can do so by visiting the library at 120 E. Spring St.