By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) on Friday kicked off its summer reading program at the downtown Central Library.
“The Summer Reading Kick-off Party is an opportunity to have families come to the libraries to become engaged to find out what we have available,” said Janine Langston, Youth Services Coordinator at the BPL.
Part of the engagement is having parents read to their children, Langston said. “There’s nothing more important than reading out loud to small children,” she said.
Sandi Lee, interim director of the library, said the summer reading program, in place for more than seven decades, engages families “so they can find out what summer reading is about,” she said.
Collaborating with schools is also important, Lee added.
“We always try to connect with the schools before the students get out because the summer slide is a real event that happens to children,” she said. “We try to keep building their skills and [keep] them sharp, so when they return in August, they’re not having to make up time or revisit.”
The program allows students to read for fun.
“They can read whatever they want and as much as they want,” Langston said. “This is an opportunity to help students learn what they’re interested in.”
This summer the library will offer several classes and demonstrations that many students might not know about including robotics, science, art demonstration, yoga, and painting.
The library also has an adult program underway.
“When children see their parents reading, they think ‘oh, I need to read something too,’” Lee said.
Libraries now offer more than just books, Langston said.
“They can download music that came out this week, they can rent movies, e-books, and audiobooks.” Langston said. “We also have electronic devices. We have launch pads and Wi-Fi hot spots that you can check out and take them home.”
Erica Henderson, of Birmingham, said her daughters, ages 4 and 5, have been part of the program for the past three years and reading is something that she knows is important, she said.
“It keeps them interested in learning, but it also helps their learning, so when they go back to school they know what they’re looking at, and they’re looking forward to it.” she said.
Henderson said it also helps give them something to do during the summer.
“Not everybody can go to summer camp, so this is right here in our neighborhoods and it gives them something to do and it helps them,” she said.
Below is a sample of some of the summer activities for teens at the library. For the full schedule of over 500 programs for kids, teens and adults visit www.bplonline.org:
- Build a Better You: Teens Engineer BHM with Computer Programming, several libraries beginning at 2 p.m. on June 15 at East Ensley Branch Library. – Under the guidance of UAB School of Engineering student mentors, learn how to program and code an Arduino microcomputer and make it work with LED lights and other electrical components. This program is sponsored in part by a Community Impact Grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund.
- Teen Zone Open Lab Dayz, 2-4 p.m. on June 20, June 27 in the Teen Zone Learning Lab at the Central Library – Learn how to use a 3D printer, program a robot, and make your own movie in June.
- Building a Better You, June 29, 1:30 p.m. at Powderly Library – Ms. Candice will motivate teens to renew their minds through physical activity. A spin-off of the “Let’s Move” campaign of former First Lady Michelle Obama, you will be informed of the importance of exercise, meditation and learn methods to developing a healthier attitude/lifestyle.
- Spoken Word Poetry Camp: Civil Rights Through the Eyes of a Young Poet, July 10-14, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Central Library, 2100 Park Place – Spend a week discussing Birmingham’s role in the civil rights movement and writing a spoken word poem that at the end of the week will be archived in BPL’s digital archives to share with the world. Teens should bring lunch though pizza will be provided on Friday. Limited to 20 teens. Register with Lance Simpson by calling 205-226-3655 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Build a Better You with Gentle Yoga, 10 a.m. July 10 at Woodlawn Library – Yoga can relieve stress and calm the mind. Yoga instructor Marie Blair, a recently retired school librarian, will focus on helping patrons develop strength, flexibility and balance inch by inch. Marie will teach Tai Chi, gentle yoga postures, poetry and humor in her classes.
Prizes are awarded at each of the Birmingham Public Library’s 19 locations. The more books read between now and Aug. 31, the greater the chances of winning! Register online at www.bplonline.org or at the following link: http://www.bplonline.org/summerreading.aspx