It's time to rise and shine.
With school starting and summer drawing to a close, the Townsend Public Library's night-related summer themes -- "Dream Big: Read," "Own the Night" and "Between the Covers"-- are coming to an end-- but not before an incredible turnout for the summer reading program. This year, according to children's librarian Molly Benevides, participants in the summer reading program logged a whopping 172,000 cumulative minutes of page-turning. This is up from last year's 157,000 cumulative reading minutes, and the numbers have been steadily increasing over the years.
"It's been fantastic, we had 347 kids sign up online," said Benevides.
The reason for counting minutes rather than books, she said, is to level the playing field for kids with a preference for thicker volumes.
"What we do is we have them track how much time they spend reading so if one kids wants to read 10 short books and one wants to read one really long book, it equals out to the same," said Benevides.
The weekly prizes are over, but that doesn't mean readers should put down their books half-way through.
"Kids can still log in their time (online)," said Benevides. "I am going to keep the program open until Sept. 7."
Just because the summer program is coming to an end does not mean library patrons should worry about boredom, said staff members; as the library prepares for the fall, the season's roster of activities is already in the process of being
"Next week is a big planning week for us," said Stacy Schuttler, the library director.
On the list so far for September, the library is celebrating annual Talk Like a Pirate day on Sept. 19. Patrons are encouraged to appear in full pirate regalia, and be prepared to adopt the vernacular. Also present for the first time will be the library's very own sea-faring scalawag: Awesome Robb's Pirate Show, starring Robb Preskins as Cpt. Robbie Bones, is making a special appearance for the unique holiday. Magic, juggling and family-friendly comedy will be performed.
"It's an evening performance so families can come, and it's funny," said Benevides.
The library is also picking up with their beginner's book club for readers from age 5 to 6. Members not only practice their reading skills and discuss their favorite stories, but get to participate in hands-on activities pertaining to their book selections, such as making puppets of the book's characters.
For a slightly older crowd, the library also offers monthly Wii days, the first of which is coming up in September. The library staff sets up the gaming device on the big screen in the meeting hall for teenagers who are looking to socialize and step outside of the normal video game experience.
"Kids can do dance competitions. It's just a fun time to play," said Benevides.
While the kids are being entertained, the library offers parents a little bit of downtime, as well, with programs ranging from knitting to book clubs to tracking genealogy. For those who are looking to burn some energy, the library is also offering a "Fall into Shape" weight-loss challenge.
But, as returning students and their parents know, the fall isn't all about fun and games; with school starting and SATs right around the corner, the library is helping the students prepare by offering a free English SAT preparation class with a trained private tutor.
The library also offers their resources to students of a less conventional classroom: The home school group, which begins again in September and will meet once a week, is open to home schooled students of all ages.
"It's really a time for parents and kids to meet and socialize and check out books if they need to," said Benevides. "It was a really successful program."
And students don't have to be preparing for exams in order to utilize the library's resources.
"Since we're so close to the middle school, we have a lot of kids who come over after school," said Benevides.
There are a few conditions for young visitors: To name a few, respect the library's property, use appropriate language, speak quietly and no riding bikes or skateboards in the parking lot. But usually, said the staff, the kids coming in are respectful of the rules.
"They tend to come over and do homework or just hang out. They like their downtime after school," said Schuttler.
A complete list of fall activities and the after-school visitor rules can be found online at townsendlibrary.org.