Catoosa County Library
Summer Reading Club like you’ve never seen before
It’s summer vacation for the kiddos and you’re worried about two things: they’re going to be bored and they’re going to lose some of the ground they gained over the school year.
Problem solved. All you’ll need to do is load up the young-uns and head for the Catoosa County Library. What’s going on this summer is like nothing you’ve seen before.
“Our summer reading program,” says Children’s Coordinator Shannon Neal, “incorporates reading, art, crafts, games, parties, movies, entertainment, acting – and that’s not all.”
The library’s reading program is open to all ages, infant through age 18. There are activities going on five days every week all summer long. Here’s a small sampling: June 9, movie day for teens, Lego-time for the whole fam, and an after-hours lock-in for tweens; June 10, storyteller Kaye Rose for the entire family; June 14, Builda-Fort day and Nerf War for tweens; June 22, a science show by Doc Atom and a martial arts show; June 23, a Mad Hatter Tea Party for tweens and teens. There will be a Harry Potter party another day.
Running through all the fun is the theme of reading. Children receive reading logs to record their progress To learn more about the summer reading program or the library: Web: catoosacountylibrary.org Facebook: facebook.com/ catoosacountylibrary Email: Info@ catoosacountylibrary. org Phone: 706-9653600. Or show up in person. Library hours are Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The library is located at 108 Catoosa Circle in Ringgold.
and are entered into drawings to win prizes and gift certificates.
Charts for prereaders provide suggestions to help parents make reading with their children more fun: “Play peeka-boo by covering pictures of people and animals in books; Adopt a stuffed animal pet and talk about how to care for it.”
For older children, there’s Reading BINGO. Each square on a BINGO chart suggests some reading topic or activity: “Read to your family; Read a book about a historical event; Read for one hour without stopping; Read a magazine; Have a reading party with friends.”
“We want to challenge kids to step outside their usual reading habits and try new things,” says Neal. “So we have suggestions about reading fairy tales, reciting poetry, reading about science, things like that. We want to expand children’s horizons and get them excited about books.”
Each child’s Reading Packet also comes with certificates, bookmarks, stickers, ideas and a schedule of events.
For tweens and teens, there’s not only the reading and the activities, which are cool enough, but there’s the opportunity to help others.
“Our theme this year is ‘Build a Better World,’” says Teen Coordinator Lexi Ettenger. “Besides the fun stuff we’ll be doing, we’ll be putting together bag lunches for a community outreach and doing a food drive.”
Ettenger says the teens who come to library events regularly are great about volunteering. “A lot of our tweens and teens help with the younger kids – they read to them and help them with
crafts. We have one who does face painting.”
Neal and Ettenger say they also have some excellent adult volunteers, as well as groups and businesses within the community that help out. Sponsors of the summer reading program include Friends of the Catoosa County Library, Modern Woodmen of America, McDonald’s, Mayfield Ice Cream, McKee Foods and Lake Winnepesaukah.
There’s still time for other businesses to become involved, says Neal. “We can use prizes for our drawings and we’d like to establish more relationships with our community.”
Neal and Ettenger are both relatively new to the Catoosa County Library and are excited about their common vision and how well they work together.
After 10 years as children’s coordinator for the Osceola County, Fla., library system, Neal moved to Catoosa County to be near her parents. “When the position at the Catoosa Library opened up, I jumped at it,” she says. “This is what I love doing.” She’s been with Catoosa since September of last year.
Ettenger, who holds a degree in creative writing and literature from Lee University, has been with the Catoosa Library since January. “I worked for a while as teen and children’s lead at Barnes & Noble,” she says, “but this is where my heart is.”
Both women are passionate about building library relationships with children that will make them into enthusiastic and lifelong readers.
Neal takes her storytelling skills into Headstart classrooms and daycare centers, as well as using them at the library. Last Wednesday, she says, 120 children showed up at the library for Story Hour.
Ettenger says 70 tweens showed up for a recent Harry Potter party and parents begged the library to do one for teens (it’s on the schedule for this summer – for teens and tweens).
Neal and Ettenger’s enthusiasm has even infected their own parents, all of whom volunteer at the library.
Above: Shannon Neal (right), children’s coordinator at the Catoosa County Library, and Lexi Ettenger, teen coordinator, work as a team to get kids excited about reading. Right: The Catoosa County Library is well-stocked with Lego Blocks for children to play with; a Lego Club meets every Thursday at 2 p.m. From left: Jessica Lin, Abby Bryan, Ashlynn Wright, Marilyn Wilson, Chase, Melody. (Catoosa News photos/Tamara Wolk)