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Library programs available for kids of all ages

Detroit Lakes Public Library summer reading program participants Amara Sonneman, 9, Samantha Dahl, 7, and Ava Sonneman, 10, sift through sand for hidden gems during a rock picking presentation at the library Thursday afternoon. BRIAN BASHAM/RECORD

Though some may be tempted to shut their books at the end of the school year and leave them closed until the first day of class comes around again, the Detroit Lakes Public Library is offering some fun programs to inspire kids and adults alike to continue reading over the summer months.

Librarian Dotz Johnson has been involved with the children’s program at the library since 1998, and she said it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact time that the summer reading program began.

“These events like we’ve got now really didn’t take off until we had the new building and a place for them. Having the meeting room launched it to what we kind of know it as today,” Johnson said. “It’s evolved a lot.”

Today, the library provides a reading program for every age and stage of reading during the summer months.

For the youngest visitors to the library, those that haven’t reached the ability to read by themselves, the library offers pre-literacy activities with ice cream cones and other treats as incentives.

Elementary level readers can record hours of reading or titles of completed books to earn points, which can then be redeemed for books or toys.

“We are really looking at keeping kids reading, especially the younger ones,” Johnson said of the program’s objective each summer.

“It’s a goal of all the summer reading programs across the nation to prevent summer setback,” she said in reference to the progress young readers can lose if they stop reading when school lets out. “They quit for the summer and it’s all gone.”

Another goal, said Johnson, “is to get people into the library to enjoy the resources we have,” and programs are also available that are tailored specifically to teens and adults.

Teen readers can record pages in exchange for clues towards solving a mystery. This summer, readers are applying their sleuthing skills to “A Pharaoh’s Revenge.” They also receive coupons for treats with their clues, and those that complete the program are invited to a party at the end of the summer, with the opportunity to win some great prizes.

Adults can take part in an incentive program too; forms are available that can be entered for a monthly prize drawing once four books have been logged.

The Detroit Lakes Public Library is a branch of Lake Agassiz Regional Library, and the library receives funding for programs through Lake Agassiz and Becker County Friends of the Library.

This year, the library got a big boost from funds raised by students during Care Week in the Detroit Lakes schools.

“It was so fabulous — I’m still just amazed and so grateful, as much for the thought of it as for the actual dollars,” Johnson said in reaction to the students’ contribution.

The funding has been used to sponsor the events offered each Thursday at 2 p.m. during the summer. Each year the program is themed, and this summer is “Dig into Reading.”

On Thursday, July 11, amateur paleontologist Robb Larson will present “Digging for Dinosaurs.” He currently has displays of bones installed in the library for visitors to view, which according to Johnson have already been a big hit.

The Zoomobile from the Minnesota Zoo will make an appearance at the library on July 18. The program, “All Things Connected,” features a team of trained naturalists and live animals, which share “an environmental experience” through storytelling and audience participation.

On July 25, the library will host a Pirate Party in “Digging for Treasures!”

In recognition of the Detroit Lakes Public Library’s 100th anniversary, the library is providing a celebration geared for kids on Aug. 1.

Throughout the summer, a troll will also be hiding in the library. Kids who find it are encouraged to report the discovery to the front desk with a description of what color its bellybutton is. The troll’s location and bellybutton color will change throughout the summer.

In the summer, the Thursday library programs generally draw so many kids and their parents that the group spills out of the meeting room into the hallway. Johnson also said that “a couple hundred” readers generally take part in the program and turn in reading hours. This year it appears that past numbers will be topped.

“I really enjoy it,” Johnson said of spending time with the young readers. “It’s fun to have their enthusiasm for reading — their enthusiasm makes the program go.”

She also has loved getting to know kids and watching them grow during her time with the program, and has especially enjoyed spending time with the teenage readers who have come back as volunteers for the youth program.

While the Detroit Lakes Public Library is a valuable community resource year-round, the summer is a perfect time for any age to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities, and to ignite or rekindle a love of reading.

For more information on upcoming events or to sign up for the programs, visit the Detroit Lakes Public Library or call 218-847-2168.

Article written by Libby Larson of Detroit Lakes Newspapers