Scores of children and adults have been running between raindrops over the past few weeks to get to the library to participate in the Bertha Bartlett Public Library’s summer reading program, and demonstrating that “Libraries ROCK!,” the theme for the summer. Flooded basements, high rainfall and stormy days impact us, and we certainly understand the challenges faced by our community.

We were enchanted with a visit from Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne and her friends from the Jacksonville, Fla., Mayo Clinic, Dr. and Mrs. Elliott Richelson. Dr. Kinne has spoken highly of Story City for so many years that they said they had to come see what was so special about our community. They arrived at the library in time for the Friday morning preschool program, where the children heard stories about the sounds of jungle, learned some yoga moves, and created their personal rain sticks to take home.

As in many cases, as our visitors toured the building, and I explained some of the programs we held and the usage of our library, the question was asked about how the programs related to the books and reading. On the surface, it might seem that we are just entertaining our children during the summer, but we have a lot more motivating us to provide the types of programs we offer.

Building a love of reading starts with the initial spark that makes a child or an adult get excited about what might be in a book. It sometimes takes a lot of false starts, trying to find a good match by topic, reading level and style of writing. Sometimes we can help by talking with the child or adult and help direct them, but sometimes that doesn’t work.

Our programs involve two steps: One step is the programs which introduce unique subjects and topics through our books. We then create activities and help the children explore aspects of the program that interest them in a variety of subjects. Our intent is to have different levels of reading materials available on the subjects we present. The second step is using the reading logs which allow our kids and parents to explore the materials in our library, learning in a self-directed manner. They often discover surprising fun facts in this process, exciting them when they realize at the library they have no limits of exploration.

Developing a habit of reading at least 20 minutes a day with age appropriate materials, engages the mind, helps retain knowledge from the previous school year, and helps students re-connect quickly into the school habits needed in the fall. Mental heal is an important subject, and exercising the brain, using different topics and activities helps keep a brain healthy. When they can choose their books, and build on their reading skills on their own terms, it’s more fun, and exciting. We provide the mechanisms, however, it is still up to the children and their parents to make the programs “work” as we hope they do.

This week we will have a special program featuring the Science Center of Iowa, who will be presenting their program “Global Soundscapes,” on Thursday at 1 p.m. in Story City and again in Gilbert at 3 p.m. These special programs are interesting and informative to all ages. Our Teen program will continue on Tuesdays with Denise at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesdays our Tweens meet with Miss Shelly at 10:30, and the Book Club meets immediately after at 11:30 with Miss Laura. And Friday mornings at 10:30 a.m. are the Preschool Storytimes with Miss Ema.

It’s never too late to participate with the summer reading challenges, and the programs we offer. Learning how to use the Bertha Bartlett Public Library and the materials we offer out for loan, is just a small part of the service we offer to the community members who use us. It’s always a good place for families and friends to meet and gather reading materials for the summer ahead!