Library kicks off reading program

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone Public Library celebrated the start of their summer reading program, themed “Oceans of Possibilities,” Wednesday, June 8, with their first-annual book walk. Program participants were guided station-by-station through the children’s book “Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea” by Jan Peck, each outdoor station containing a page from the story. This was the library’s first in-person summer reading event since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With COVID, things had to change, so this is kind of the first time we have brought back a non-virtual program,” Lori Wells, Gladstone Public Library director, said. “We weren’t really sure how things were going to work out, but now we are really excited for this summer.”

The book walk began just outside the library’s front door, students following the path of book-page stations until they reached the playground at James T. Jones Elementary School. When traveling from one station to the next, participants were given a small activity to complete before they could move on.

“One sign would say ‘Crab walk to the next sign’ and another would say ‘Skip to the next sign’,” Kari Fassbender, media assistant at the Gladstone Public Library, said. “There was something interactive at each sign for the kids to do.”

Once reaching the book walk’s finish line, kids were greeted with goodie bags and snacks. In accordance with the summer program’s theme, the students were also given chalk to illustrate their favorite sea critters on the sidewalk. The book walk was made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation.

“A lot of materials needed to be purchased in order for the book walk to happen, so it was made possible by the Community Foundation,” Wells said. “They helped us purchase big sign frames, multiple books, a canopy, and chairs. All the stuff that we needed was provided by them.”

While the official day of registration was June 8, area youth are eligible to register for the summer reading program throughout the summer months. The program currently has 157 registered participants and is set to last for eight weeks, concluding on Aug. 3. For every book that is read, participants will be awarded a ticket. Those tickets can then be placed in several different baggies with corresponding prizes.

“For our summer reading program every year, we buy a lot of prizes,” Wells said. “Many local businesses donated certificates or money to help provide prizes as well. If it wasn’t for the community reaching out and giving us these gifts, our program would not be able to go on.”

The reading program accommodates two separate age groups, a youth group and a young adult group. The youth group contains children from age 2 through fifth grade, while the young adult group is for sixth through twelfth grade students. Each group has different prize selections to choose from, the raffle drawing for prizes being held on Aug. 3. The library plans to host another book walk to conclude the summer reading program as well.

“People don’t have to come to the reading program to be involved,” Wells said. “They can come to the library anytime and check out books, materials, and receive their tickets.”

Other events being held at the library this summer will be orchestrated by the Friends of the Library. Their next event is a card/game night party, which is set for Thursday, June 23. This fundraiser event is tailored towards adults, and includes a variety of different games to be played. The event will have a raffle for gift baskets and books, along with dessert to be shared. It will be held at 1 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Gladstone.

In addition to their summer reading program, the Gladstone Public Library provides a number of services for the local community to enjoy. Along with books and audiobooks, the library is now offering rental fishing poles and tackle boxes. The library offers several online resources as well.

“We offer a lot of services that I don’t think people realize that we do offer,” Wells said. “We have whole collections of downloadable magazines, downloadable books, and ebooks that people can read or listen to.”

Even further, the library received a grant that allowed them to develop a rental chromebook and hotspot service. This will allow library patrons to have access to the internet via chromebook no matter where they go, allowing them to tackle assignments or business at a time and place most convenient for them. While not yet available, this service has been in the works at the library for quite some time.

“This is brand new for us and we have never checked out a high dollar item like this before,” Wells said. “We are just finishing setting up the software, but people will be able to take these chromebooks home and use them.”

The Gladstone Public Library is open Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The library is also giving away free at home COVID-19 self-testing kits. In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human services, residents are eligible for one testing kit per household member daily, a max of five kits per day. A library card is not needed to receive a testing kit.


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