Libraries clue in summer readers

More than a thousand children across the county are spending the summer immersed in books and unlocking mysteries with area libraries&8217; &8220;Get a Clue&8221; programs.

&8220;The reading that you do at school is assigned,” said Calera Children’s Librarian Liz Odom. “Summer reading is all about getting the kids in the library and letting them read for fun.”

With the cross-county detective theme, the seven libraries have been able to make games, contests and entertainment into pursuits of learning and discovery.

“It’s been a great theme for us because there’s so much variety,&8221; Odom said.

Activities, which vary by location, have included a comedy circus, special story times, skateboarding and juggling workshops, visits from the McWane Center, magic and puppet shows, arts and crafts, movies, a CLUE tournament and scavenger hunts.

Last week, an Alabaster author visited to share a book about why single socks go missing. Children then made puppets out of mateless socks.

Alabaster Youth Services Librarian Frances Smith said she tries to complement the physical or craft activities with relevant book lists. Cultivating hobbies is important but so is knowing how to learn more about them, she said.

&8220;The library really is here for their whole lives and for every facet of their lives,&8221; Smith said.

With maintaining reading skills a top goal of summer programming, libraries are also holding reading incentive challenges. Children set weekly goals and earn awards as they reach them. Local businesses have sponsored grand prizes, such as a bicycle for younger children and an iPod for older ones, to be awarded at the end of the summer programs.

Columbiana’s program runs through July 16 and Alabaster’s and Chelsea’s run through July 18. Helena’s program finishes July 25, Calera’s July 26, North Shelby’s July 28 and Pelham’s July 29