Library’s Summer Book Club coming up

School may be out for the summer, but Alpena County Library hopes young students continue to read.

As in many years past, the library will be helping to inspire kids in their out-of-school reading efforts with the annual Summer Book Club. The 2014 version of this popular summertime activity for children ages 3 to 12 kicks off Tuesday, and library staff chose Fizz Boom Read as this year’s theme.

“It’s a science-based theme, which is the state theme,” said Children’s Librarian Mary Clute. “So we are going to have fun not only with reading, but also science. We’re going to be doing some experimenting.”

Kids can begin signing up at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday on site at the library. From 10 to 11 a.m. that day, they’ll get a chance to see magician Gordon Russ in action. Then from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the library is offering a hot dog lunch to kids and their families for $1 each.

That’s just the beginning of a month’s worth of fun.

Besides reading books of their choice, participants can enjoy a Bedtime Math Pajama Party, take part in Dr. Zeemo’s Science Palooza, watch a performance of “The Terrible Misgivings of Dr. Frankenmuth,” go on a scavenger hunt at the Thunder Bay Maritime Heritage Center and attend a Science Day at the Besser Museum.

In between those engaging activities, kids also will do special crafts and keep their own science journal. The month-long book club culminates July 16 with a large carnival of kid’s games.

“This is the fun part of my job,” said Clute, who estimated she’s been running the program for more than 20 years. She and fellow staff member Linda LaCross visited nine area elementary schools prior to the end of the school year to spread the word about the year’s Summer Book Club.

“It seems like when we go downstairs kids are coming in already to get books,” Clute said. “It makes our job so much more fun when they are enthused about it.”

Those who sign up are asked to read 15 books over the four-week time frame and report on them at the library. For kids reading chapter books, 50 pages equals one book. By reading the 15 books, kids earn a complete set of free tickets to do all the fun activities offered at the annual carnival.

Additional carnival tickets always are available for purchase to those who didn’t participate in the book club or who didn’t finish all their books on time.

Unlike years past, this year’s carnival has been moved from outdoors at the Alpena County Fairgrounds to indoors at the APlex.

“We’re air-conditioned there,” Clute said. “We had so many hot days in years past, so this will be really nice.”

All of the planning for book club is wrapped around the library’s mission to keep kids reading throughout the summer months.

“We consider the Summer Book Club to be among the most important things we do in that it’s really important the kids keep reading during the summer,” said Library Director Eric Magness-Eubank. “It’s been proven that kids can fall behind a full grade in their reading between the spring and fall if they don’t keep reading over the summer. Taking part in the Summer Book Club is an excellent way to keep that from happening.”

Magness-Eubank also said this year’s club will be increasing the amount of technology worked into the book club experience.

“We’re encouraging technology. It’s a very exciting trend in libraries,” he said, citing as an example, an entertaining, interactive coloring program that will be available to play at the end-of-season carnival.

This year’s book club is co-sponsored by Alpena County Library, Friends of the Library, Burger King, Besser Museum and NOAA.