By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“You don't want to spend all summer reading. You want to get out and climb a tree or go to a museum,” said Sylvia Platt, director of teen services, at the program's kickoff last week, when about 50 children and teens gathered at the library at 620 Cedar Ave., for skits, presentations and free food.
“And for those of you who are around 12 years old, you now have more brain cells than any other time in your life, so you can use them to develop what you are passionate about,” Platt added at the Thursday event.
For the third consecutive year, the library has commissioned artist Amanda Kingsley to craft a graphical worksheet with activity suggestions on one side and a way to track them on the reverse.
This year's theme is “Spark a Reaction,” encouraging kids to partake in a science experiment, volunteer for a cause, express themselves through speech and art and read a book with “fire” in the title.
“There is nothing like this anywhere else in the country,” Platt said.
“It brings kids into the library, even if reading isn't their thing.”
The youngsters who read the most books will get a to-be-announced prize to be presented at the Aug. 7 finale.
Meanwhile, everyone who reads a book is encouraged to write its title down on a strip of paper and deposit it into a box in the lobby.
At the end of the summer, the strips will be turned onto a paper chain that will hang in the library, from one end to the other.
Craft-based activities are intended to encourage literacy and creativity.
For instance, children are encouraged to develop “peepscapes,” dioramas illustrating a scene from a book using the marshmallow animals common to Easter.
As a guide, the library prepared several examples that are now on display, including a portrayal of “The Wizard of Oz” and one called “Moby Peep” in which one peep is colored white and another, representing Captain Ahab, had a wooden stick for a leg.
All the peepscapes will be put on display with a “Peeple's Choice” winner to be chosen at the end of the summer.
On Thursday, young people were given peepscape starter kits along with packets of coffee stir sticks for use in building a structure with awards in four categories: the lightest, strongest bridge; the tallest structure; the most recognizable and the most creative.
The idea is to reverse the lazy “summer slide” that can set in when school's out of session, Platt said.
“We want to get kids to read something different, to read some nonfiction or something that is outside of their comfort zone,” Platt said.
“We want them to go beyond what they might do during a lazy teenage summer off.”
For more information, visit http://www.jclibrary.info/ or phone 360-385-6544.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.