The Berkeley County Library System has had an entertaining and educational summer.
In order to keep kids focused on reading, libraries around the county have been providing exciting events for children of all ages.
The two biggest events have been Dream Big, a magic show by acclaimed South Carolina magician Tim Sonefelt, and Cocky’s Reading Express, featuring the popular University of South Carolina mascot.
Held on June 14 in the Berkeley County Administration Building Assembly Room, Dream Big had 242 attendees and featured magic, comic puppetry, music, and storytelling.
Cocky’s Reading Express was held at the same venue on June 20 and had 81 attendees.
A collaboration between the USC Student Government and USC’s School of Library and Information Science, the event featured Cocky, and provided the kids with a free book after they learned the importance of life-long reading.
The most popular and longest-running program, however, has been the library’s Summer Reading Program.
Sharon Fashion, Deputy Director and Children’s Services Coordinator of the Berkeley County Library System, helped develop the Summer Reading Program by creating reading lists and coordinating special book-oriented events.
Fashion said that the program, which will end on July 28 but for which parents can still sign up their kids, has received overwhelmingly positive praise from children, young adults, and parents.
“As of June 1, 2,751 kids had signed up for the Summer Reading Program around the county,” she said.
Guided by the theme “Dream Big. Read!” the program has three age groups: under age 3, ages 3 – 7, and ages 7 – 11.
Newborns and toddlers under age 3 are participating in the county’s first Early Literacy Summer Reading Program.
Parents are encouraged to read to their children for at least 10 minutes a day, to take their children outdoors so that they can identify what they read about, and to teach their children basic arithmetic by having them count items in the books.
The children in the two older age groups fill out reading logs and receive prizes for reaching reading milestones.
“For every five books we give ages 3 – 7 a prize,” said Fashion.
Children ages 8 – 11 get prizes every time they spend five hours reading.
According to the program’s rules, “After reading 5 books, members will receive a door hanger. After reading 10 books, members will receive a plastic book bag. After reading 15 books, members will earn a reading medal, a certificate and a t-shirt.”
Friends of the Berkeley County Library, an organization that promotes and tries to enhance the Berkeley County Library System, provides the gifts.
The Friends are currently looking for more members to help bring a love of reading to people of all ages.
“We are close to finishing raising money for a book mobile,” said Fashion. “Any donation can help.”
The Friends will sponsor one more event this summer: Twilight Tails by the South Carolina Aquarium, which will be held on Tuesday, July 24 at 2 p.m. in the Berkeley County Administration Building Assembly Room.
The event will have immersive storytelling and will feature hands-on interactions and live animals from the aquarium.