Alta library shares a busy summer with young readers
From listening to a story read to them at the swimming pool ot petting zoo animals in the library, Alta kids are filling their summer with knowledge and fun, courtesy of the Alta Community Library summer programs. “So far this summer, we have had 711 attend our 29 various programs for all ages,” said Andrea Hogrefe, the library director. August 20th will mark the conclusion of the library’s summer programs.
This year’s theme was, “A Universe of Stories” to correlate with the 50th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing. “There is a nationwide group that chooses a theme,” she said, which offers a wide variety of resources every summer.
Some of the biggest draws this year for children and adults included a June 5th visit from animals and their handlers from the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, “Story Time at the Pool” on Tuesday afternoons, and reading logs where children who complete and turn them in receive a small prize and qualify for a stuffed animal building class.
The June 5th Blank Park Zoo project, where a conservationist brings into the library live animals, is always a hit, according to Hogrefe. “The kids love the live animals,” she said.
An innovative project involves taking the library into the community, in a sense, which is accomplished with the “Story Time at the Pool” activity, where library employee Laura Turnquist visits the Alta swimming pool on most Tuesdays to read a story and bring a snack for children during the afternoon pool break. It is popular, and she often has 30 or more kids flock to the reading, ages 2 through middle school. She said the older kids love being helpers as they hold the book or accomplish other tasks.
This project is important, Turnquist said, “to keep kids reading throughout the summer and to improve their literacy skills. The library wants to encourage reading.” Before the 2:45 p.m. book reading, she motivates kids before the pool break by walking through with props such as the book, other visuals relating to the book, or by distributing candy to get kids interested. When they congregate on the grass outside of the pool area and before the reading begins, she has games and methods to get them thinking; for example, by starting a guessing game about which book she will read or what the snack might be after the reading. In the end, “If they listen to the story, they’ll get a treat,” Lindquist said.
Summer is a perfect time for her to emphasize to kids what the library has to offer year-around, such as books, newspapers and magazines. “There are so many fun things to do there,” Turnquist said.
Hogrefe is pleased with the turnout this summer. “I think it went really great. We had good attendance again,” she said. “We have the regulars coming in all the time.” Activities this year included Jester Puppets which she said really involved the kids and adults, and paint classes for kids and adults. Kids always enjoy the computers where they can play games, there are STEM Creation Stations on tables which include Lego’s, coloring and other activities, movie days and Toddle Time where kids participate in sing-along’s and other activities with Denise King.
Additionally, there is an Alta Summer Food Service Program adjacent to the library in the Alta Elementary School lunchroom, free for children under the age of 18 which continues until August 14th and offers breakfast and lunch. There is a reduced cost for adults.
The library receives donations for the summer reading programs from McDonald’s, Casey’s, Dairy Queen, Walmart and Pizza Ranch.
Hogrefe has been the library director in Alta for 6 1/2 years, and her degree is in liberal studies which include English, History and Psychology. She is originally from Albert City.