With only a few days of school remaining, the Maryville Public Library is once again preparing to provide local youngsters with a summer's worth of good books.
The library's summer reading program gets underway Tuesday, May 28, when area youngsters and their parents are invited to sign up and receive vacation-time reading packs.
Librarian Stephanie Patterson said the summer reading program has posted four years of continued growth, and she's hoping a record number of youngsters will enroll again this year.
A federal Library Services and Technology Act grant administered through the Missouri State Library is providing funds for two new summer reading initiatives this year. The first is aimed at kids who will be entering kindergarten through 2nd grade in the fall.
"Beginning Readers" sessions led by Toddler Services specialist Elizabeth Argo will take place at 10 a.m. each Wednesday beginning June 5
"I hear parents talk about reluctant readers, and they feel overwhelmed at trying to help their children unlock the joy of reading in fun ways," Argo said. "I want to provide some resources and ideas for them that are enjoyable and creative to appeal to all learning styles.
"For those kids going into kindergarten this year, I want to provide a jump start, both for those who are excited and interested in beginning to read, and those who may not have had a preschool experience and need to gain some familiarity with the alphabet and sounds."
The sessions will include reading and letter games, phonics, early literacy activities, stories, songs and rhymes.
Preregistration is required. Interested patents should call the call the library at (660) 582-5281.
For young people in second grade through high school, the library is hosting a "Classics Challenge," during which readers can earn prizes by reading one of two youth editions of Homer's "Odyssey" and completing an Odyssey scavenger hunt.
Patterson said the challenge resembles "community-wide read" events that have become popular among adults in recent years.
"The Odyssey is action-packed, which appeals to many young readers, and it's such a building block of Western cultural literacy that we’d like to introduce it to kids early," Patterson said. "Kids are going to encounter references to this story throughout their lives -- in movies, on TV, in high school English classes and within a multitude of other written stories."
Patterson school-age readers will get to choose between the "Odyssey" as retold by Geraldine McCaughrean and a two-volume edition written by popular children’s author Mary Pope Osborne, who also produced the "Magic Treehouse" series.
Youngsters who can't yet read at the level these two books require are still eligible for the program, and the prizes, by having their parents read to them.