Thousands Join Library’s Summer Reading Program

By MEGAN WILLIAMS
Daily News-Record 7/23/19
 
HARRISONBURG — Mr. Jon told the audience of children gathered at the Massanutten Regional Library on Monday afternoon that he likes to start his set off kind of silly.
He didn’t disappoint as he began singing, but instead of a human voice, a clucking sound emerged. He clasped his hand over his month in faux embarrassment. When he began again, it was a cow sound, to the hilarity of the children gathered.
The library has been fans of Jon Lewis for awhile and the patrons seemed to enjoy his children- centric music as well after the library purchased a number of Mr. Jon’s CDs, said Randy Ours, the library’s children’s specialist.
The performance by Mr. Jon and Friends was just one event being organized by the library system as part of the summer program, Summer Reading Games.
Ours was not sure how many years the library has offered the program designed to keep kids reading while out of school, but he did say it was definitely a longstanding tradition.
Since early June, over 4,334 children have signed up for Summer Reading Games, which means the library system will easily surpass last year’s total of 4,369. In fact, registrations at Central, North River and Page Public Libraries are already above their final numbers from 2018.
But children are not just registering. They’re also reading.
When schools let out for the summer holidays, library circulation numbers for children’s books skyrocket. Patrons borrowed 25,387 children’s books in May, and then in June they borrowed 40,065. That’s an increase of 58%, according to a press release.
Because of community support, the seven MRL branches were able to offer 141 programs during the month of June. From storytimes for toddlers, to live theater for kindergarten through fifth- graders, to wacky fun events for teens, library offerings in June attracted 2,852 kids and caregivers.
Mr. Jon and Friends was just one of the offerings that library has arranged this summer.
On Aug. 7 and 8, “Sciencetellers” will visit MRL for six performances of “Aliens: Escape from Earth,” which uses science experiments to bring the story to life. In the second part of the show, they go “behind the scenes” of the special effects and re- create the science experiments with the help of volunteers from the audience.