Wednesday, July 23, 2014


                   BY: SHERRI JONES RIVERS

     Maybe you're light years away from having children involved in a summer reading program, but they are still alive and kicking. Let me tell you about the Richland County Library's program in Columbia, SC. It's been growing by leaps and bounds because of all the varied activities it offers at its main library, as well as all 11 branches. In addition to providing for children, it also provides programs and activities for adults and families.
     "If you change family culture," said Children's Room Librarian Heather McCue," you can change culture."

     Story time, young illustrators' workshops, and even bi-lingual story times are offered. Recently, a session was held on African drums, and in another session, children learned about fairy tales. Each child got to make his own pair of fairy or dragon wings to take home with him.

     Last Friday, 26 members of the Gamecocks Football team visited the library to read to the children. Called Pigskin Poets, it was a great motivator for reluctant readers.
    Heather says that nonfiction is gaining in popularity, primarily because of the internet. She's encouraged at the explosion of picture book biographies where children learn of people who are changing people's lives for the better.
     What else is trending this summer? Of course, Fancy Nancy is popular, as well as anything about trains, trucks, and dinosaurs. The Pinkalicious series is a favorite, too. Mo Willems' books are a big hit, and Creepy Carrots and Mr. Tiger Goes Wild fly off the shelves. A library staff person said girls don't want to read girlie books as much as they used to, but are seeking action and adventure stories.
     Heather suggested these classics for a good ole family read-aloud: Half-Magic Edgar, Cricket in Times Square, Dragon of Blueland, Lady Lollipop,and The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. The audio book of The True Blue Scouts is read by Lyle Lovett. How cool is that.

     For all you nonfiction writers out there, here is her list of what parents and children are asking for, but not finding. Maybe you can fill the niche:
    * History:  World War I and Reconstruction up to the early 1900's.
     * Math: Math concepts are fairly new to the picture book/nonfiction world, but there are so few titles to choose from, and they circulate like crazy because of the scarcity of books.
     *Biographies: Lesser known African American inventors, and biographies for young readers on contemporary people (people in pop culture, etc.)
     So, I'm wondering........what kind of summer reading program do you have?


  1. Sherri, what a rich and vibrant program you have there! So impressed! I really like the concept of pigskin poets. I also love that biographies are in demand. Especially since I have several I hope to have published soon! Great writing and thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Sherri: What a Sizzlin' Summer Reading Program for kids. The book titles suggested are excellent. I am familar with some. The others I look forward to reading. Thank you for the information about the requested genres from parents. You have included bright, colorful pictures. ~Suzy

  3. Sherri, you've created an article with lucious photos & readalicious titles (Lyle Lovett on the Kathi Appelt SUGARMAN SWAMP audio? Didn't know that) that makes me want to be a lil' kiddo in this summer program. Thank you for such an entertaining post. (Is the butterfly a summer Afro-Carribbean festival? It looks like ours, when Tally had one...)

  4. Your post made me miss our CA local library. I used to take the kids to story time each week, and in summer they had guest speakers and did culture lectures for kids. Interesting to see what the kids there are requesting.

  5. What a great resource the Richland County Library is!

  6. what a wonderful and varied program you have. I am finishing up an article about an Animal Storytime Sleepover at the library in Ithaca (about 40 minutes from my town). It is such a cool idea and the kids love it.