“How I Spent My Summer Vacation:" sweat beading on my face, running down into the third shirt of the day; babies crying, small children running around, while I tried to think of ways to occupy older children who just don’t seem to understand how great a book club could be, and who really miss having access to computers and the Internet. Kids asking “do you have a “Star Wars” book” and having to tell them to try one of three or four big bins of books, which made finding a book title like finding information on the Internet. We knew it probably was there, but had no idea where. I have a new fondness for Mr. Dewey and his decimal system.
This is how I spent eight Mondays (my day off!) this summer. It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of the situation as we brought the summer reading program to Cosmos. Their librarian had retired, their library had burned, and the community was devastated by a series of storms and a fire that damaged a major business in the community. Pioneerland Library System had a book drive, with more than 3000 excellent-quality books gathered for the children of Cosmos, and sent me with our student employee, Elle Dinius to provide books and activities for children.
I will remember the positive experiences Elle and I had as we provided a summer reading program without having a library building. First, the people in Cosmos were extraordinary. Custodians at the school were wonderful; they assured me that play dough will come out of the carpet. The City of Cosmos personnel were always helpful and the principal of the school was delightful. The parents who brought or picked up their children were enthusiastic about their children reading during the summer months. Bags and bags of books went home, and bags and bags of books came back. Parents universally told me how much the Cosmos library meant to them, and how much they hoped a new library would be possible. Joy Housman brought her entire daycare, which added to the excitement every week.
Special memories include a little girl telling me that she’s read more than 170 books this summer. I remember a mom surprised at the sight of her very active little boy sitting with me and working diligently on a necklace and later, a bracelet of large beads strung on a leather cord. He didn’t know that he was developing math skills like sorting and estimating. He told his mom proudly that he was being very good! I was able to fill requests for specific books for a young man. I enjoyed our mad scientist experiments where we made bouncy balls and Flubber. I marveled at their patience as several of the older children made little classic wooden cars. We made sun catchers and wind chimes, scratched off black coatings to reveal colorful designs; we decorated door hangers and large wooden butterfly magnets, and made lots of cool necklaces and bracelets.
My final story time with the younger children was Monday the first of August. Most of the children of all ages gathered around as we read the trickster tale “Love and Roast Chicken,” by Barbara Knutson. The older children listened from the table where they were working on projects, even if they were too grown up to sit in the circle. They asked to sing the “Little Drop of Rain Song,” which in June they weren’t all that interested in singing. They made felt guinea pigs, since the hero of “Love and Roast Chicken” is a guinea pig in Peru. When we made Flubber, it was such a big hit that the younger children wanted to make some, too. Except for the heat, it was a really, really, wonderful afternoon.
I’ll be going back to Cosmos on August 15th for a party in the city park to celebrate a great summer. I already have some things in mind to try next year if Pioneerland asks me to visit Cosmos for another summer reading program, because I would definitely do it again.