ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County branches of the Sandhill Regional Library System plan to kick off their 2016 summer reading program at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Cole Auditorium.
With the theme, “On your mark, get set, read!” children from all parts of the county are encouraged to get to the nearest library and check out books. Kids can log their reading online by visiting the home page and completing a quick registration process, according to Deborah Knight, outreach coordinator for SRLS.
“We want kids to come to the library to read,” she said. “By registering to enter their points for what they are reading, they can earn entries to win weekly prizes as well as a chance to win a Kindle Fire tablet that we are giving away at the end of the program. That will go to the highest reader. It’s very exciting this year.”
Knight said that Richmond County has only 10 readers registered online and actively recording their time spent reading. Montgomery County had 194 as of Monday.
“And there are other prizes, things kids will enjoy,” Knight said. “We have color-changing straws and pencils that change colors the way mood rings are supposed to do. And we have bookmarks and stickers. There is something for everyone — but there are special prizes for those who are reading the most. People are coming in and checking out books, but they are just not going online and signing up. And it’s very easy to do. You don’t even have to have a library card. The online form will accept a phone number.”
Also available as prizes are two Raiders footballs, signed by the entire varsity team from Richmond Senior High School and donated by coach Mike Castellano.
Knight said she hopes Richmond County will be “number one” in participation this year and expects the number of registered readers to increase along with the number of young readers attending summer reading activities at the county’s three libraries in Rockingham, Hamlet and Ellerbe.
“We had an average of 900 kids per week at summer reading last year and we are expecting more than that this year,” she said. “We’ll be using all three banquet rooms at the Cole next week. And we have partnered with several organizations and businesses across the county who will each bring something in their area of expertise to the libraries throughout summer reading.”
FirstHealth Fitness, Discovery Place KIDS and Rockstar Magic of Chris and Neal are scheduled to present fun and educational shows, Knight said. There will also be performances by entertainer Mark Lippard, ventriloquist Steve Broggan and educational programs from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Richmond County Center.
“And in Ellerbe, starting July 11, that will be more hands-on,” she said. “Lee Berry from The Berry Patch will talk about how we plant things and will bring fruit and vegetables so they can see what they taste like. And the home extension will be doing a nutrition program.”
Knight expressed her gratitude to VonDrehle Corporation and the Rockingham Rotary Club for their help in funding a large part of SRLS’s summer reading program.
“At the end we will have a list of everyone who has contributed to make summer reading a success,” she said. “We just could not do this without help from our local businesses and the people who help us year after year.”
While the program does not officially begin until next week, Knight encourages young readers to visit the library system’s website now.
“They can come in now or go online from home and register and start logging their reading,” she said. “It won’t count toward summer reading weekly prizes until next week, but it does count toward winning that Kindle Fire.”
She said that one family fun basket filled with popcorn, coupons for Wendy’s Frostys, free books and boxes of candies like the ones in movie theaters will be given away at the end of each week of the summer reading program.
“It’s just to make it so that they have a family night,” she said. “But to register to win you have to come in and check out books. Really, we have so many things going on. People talk all the time about how there’s nothing to do in Richmond County. But I preach that every single month we have something going on in (Thomas H. Leath Memorial Library).
“We’ve had free movies every Wednesday since June. And two showings. And these are big movies. We have “The Avengers” and the Sponge Bob movie. But in order to continue it, we have to have participation. These movie licenses are not cheap, and if people do not participate it is hard for us to prove that it is viable when it comes time to renew that license.”
Knight said last week’s screening of Disney’s “Cinderella” had nearly 50 viewers, but that capacity for the screenings is much higher.
“Day cares are welcome,” she said. “Feeding programs are welcome, and day camps and other groups. All we need is that they stay and supervise the group. We’d love to see them here.”
To learn more, visit www.srls.info and click the Richmond County tab or call 910-997-9988.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.