SIKESTON -- In a little over a month, area children will have the opportunity to morph into mystery-solving sleuths when the Sikeston Public Library begins its summer reading program.
"It's been a great experience in past years," said Ann Thompson, Sikeston's children's librarian. "The number of participants has increased drastically. In fact, we planned for a larger number this year."
The Missouri State Library provides public libraries with materials to run its summer reading program. This year's theme for the program is "A Mysterious Summer." With that in mind, the children will read books and participate in activities that pertain to mysteries.
"I remember last year's theme was 'Travel Around the World,'" Thompson recalled. "Kids liked it so much that they've come up to me this year, asking me if we're going to travel around the world again."
The Sikeston Public Library divides the children into two groups: grades kindergarten through second and grades third through fifth. Also, a preschool story time is held from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday for children ages 2-5.
The program for grades kindergarten through second will begin July 8 and will be held every Monday from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Grades three through five will begin July 9 and will be held every Tuesday from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Both programs will end with a combined summer reading party during the final week on Aug. 5.
Grades kindergarten through second will kick off their program with a visit from a magician. Throughout the five-week program, the children will investigate the magic of reading, the mystery of Atlantis, outer space and whatever happened to dinosaurs are the topics that will be addressed.
For grades three through five, each week will be based on a book from the "Nate the Great" series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmet. Thompson said she plans to incorporate many activities to tie in with the books.
"For example, one of the books we will be reading is 'Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag,'" Thompson said. "For that, we'll be painting canvas beach bags. And for 'Nate the Great Stalks Stupidweed,' the kids will observe herbs and maybe plant some of their own, or we might sample some herbal foods."
Children may complete a reading log for books they have read throughout the summer and receive prizes as incentives to read. Thompson said the children may choose any book they want to read as long as it is age appropriate.
The children will participate in various hands on activities, Thompson said. They will also be reading and exploring books through group projects. "A lot of the kids get tired of the swimming pool, but kids always love to make crafts," she continued, "like the beach bag. They'll look at the beach bag and remember 'Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag.' They will share what they learned with others."
Thompson said the children will benefit from the reading group in many ways. Children will maintain what new reading skills they've acquired through the school year, she said. They will also benefit from the social activities.
Reservations, by phone or in person, for the program are required, but won't be accepted until June 17. Space is limited and children will be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis, Thompson said.
"We just want to make reading fun," Thompson said. "Parents can slip out and share the experience with their children afterward."