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In 2012, the Youth Services team at Skokie Public Library decided to create a summer reading initiative for middle school youth. We all know that pleasure reading takes a nosedive when kids hit middle school — something about all those junior high reading assignments — and we wanted to see if we could help to change that.
This was a workshop that was taught by a local artist who specializes in graffiti, comics, cartooning and anime, among other art forms. We hosted this workshop as part of our teen summer reading workshop. Our summer reading program theme was "Hocus Pocus: Discover the Magic at Your Library!" We wanted one area that we focused on to be art, so a Magic of Comics and Cartooning workshop was a good fit.
The More Than a Month series is the library's yearlong exploration of the African diaspora, revealing black history beyond its February traditions, and placed within American history at large. The name is inspired by the documentary film "More Than a Month" by Shukree Tilghman.
We partnered with the nutrition department at Louisiana State University (LSU) to bring in a blender bike for a fun and educational program. Teens ages 12 to 18 worked in groups to create one-of-a-kind smoothies and then judged each others' smoothies based on nutrition, color, texture and overall tastiness. The winning team received bragging rights and smoothie tumblers.
Maker Monsters is the name of our summer library program. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade are welcome to come to our school library from 9 to 11 a.m. every Thursday for six weeks. While there, they can check books in and out, listen to a monster-themed storytime and make something. They also can interact with robots they program themselves and work with kits to create gadgets. A teacher/librarian leads the activities, an assistant helps with book searches and check-outs, and for several sessions, teachers and an author help with projects.
Each summer, we hold a popular children's program called the Library Circus. Designed for children from preschool to fifth grade, the one-hour program offers a variety of hands-on stations for kids to visit. Several hundred people attend each year, including families, preschools, day cares and summer school.