Hannibal Public Library Summer Reading Program “All Together Now” kickoff Wednesday at Central Park


Assistant Director at Hannibal From left, Public Library Caitlin Greathouse, Lincoln Henry, Casie Henry and Layden Henry demonstrate the run mat. They all worked in unison to walk across the children's room at the Hannibal Public Library. There will be four run mats as an activity for the Summer Reading Program kickoff this Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. at Central Park. Photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. – Ask just about any employee at the Hannibal Public Library what their favorite time of year is, and without delay, they will tell you it’s summer.

“We live for summer around here,” Amber Cooley, a director of the summer reading program, said with a smile. “We get to see the kids who have been busy with school and busy with everything else.”

Not only is it about reuniting with faces they have missed but it’s also about summer reading.

It’s called the summer slide. 

Reading levels, especially in elementary school children, drop considerably during the summer if kids don’t continue using the skills they learned that year in school.

A recent study conducted by research experts at Northeast Evaluation Association (NWEA) showed that without reading in the summer, students from grades 3-5 forget, on average, about 20 percent of the reading skills gained the previous school year.

Students of all ages have been reported to lose skills over the summer if they don’t read.

The Hannibal Public Library’s summer reading program is a fun way to keep students on track each summer. 

“If you don’t use it, then you will lose it – especially when you are a child. We want the kids to go back to school with a reading level that is the same that they left school with,” Cooley said. 

The summer reading program kickoff party is on Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. at Central Park. 

The theme this summer is All Together Now, focusing on friendship, community, neighborhoods, families and unity. It’s all about working together and being together.

“For the kickoff we have a lot of team activities where they can team up with each other and work together to complete some of the things,” Cooley said.

One of the activities will be a run mat, which is a large cloth loop that children get inside of and work in unison to walk.

“They are super cool and they have to work as a team to run in the loop,” she said.

Other activities will include the limbo, ball games, brand-new bean bag tosses, and a competitive game of Simon Says. Prizes will also be awarded.

Cooley said the activities were funded through a grant the library received from Library Services and Technology Act, but the prizes are not allowed to be purchased through the grant. All prizes were purchased by local fundraising.

Although most of the activities are centered on kids, the summer reading program is for all ages, including adults who are also eligible for prizes. 

“Just come on down. We can tell you what summer reading is about and we can explain how they get their prizes and all of those details,” Cooley said. “We can also do that at the library but it’s just more fun at the kickoff.”

Summer Reading for Teens

Teens and pre-teens can come to the library for parties of their own each Monday night.

The pre-teen party (incoming grades 3-5) starts at 4 p.m. at the library. The teen party (incoming grades 6-12) starts at 6 p.m. at the library. Pizza is served once a month.

All children of those age groups are welcome to the free, with no library membership necessary.

“The library is a safe place for the teens to come to during the summer. Hannibal has a few things available to the teens but not a lot of free things. This program is absolutely free. They don’t have to have a library card and every week it is something for them to do to get together with their friends that they don’t see because it’s summertime,” Cooley said.

To learn more about the Hannibal Free Public Library visit http://hannibal.lib.mo.us/ or follow them on Facebook.

Origami butterfly craft packets are available at the front desk of the library to take home. There is also a butterfly collection box at the front desk. Finished butterflies returned to the library will be used in a special display.

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