Knight’s challenge: Another summer reading program

Summer reading program counters complaints of ‘there’s nothing to do in Richmond County’

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — When Amy Pruitt completed the cold water challenge, a Facebook phenomenon, on Tuesday afternoon, she then earned the right to challenge five others to raise money for the charity of their choice.

One of the five people she selected happened to be Deborah Knight, of the Thomas Leath Memorial Library in downtown Rockingham. Knight might or might not complete the cold water challenge — it’s too soon to tell — but Pruitt’s challenge might have been more easily carried out if it instead was centered around the county’s summer reading program for area youth.

For that, Knight admits, there’s not much she won’t do.

The youth reading program, she said, “is my passion. Everybody here knows it.”

Knight described the upcoming kick-off to the free summer reading program scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Friday at Leath Memorial Library. The band Dixie Ambush will perform, and the Rockingham Lions Club will have hot dogs, popcorn and drinks available. Joy the Clown will make balloon animals for children and it’s the first opportunity children and pre-register for the summer reading program, which has a “Fizz Boom Read!” theme. In other words, each hour of the summer reading program might not be the quietest in the library. From 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, the library also will host a book sale.

She said the summer program costs approximately $5,000 to operate and is funded by grants and donations — and those donations come from a no-stone-left-unturned approach.

“They’ll give me money to get rid of me,” Knight said with pride.

It’s all for the kids. New this year for the summer program will be the Wee Bees, a toddler-sized program for kids ages 2-3 one Tuesday a month. Each monthly session has a theme — Animal Farm on July 15, What’s Floating on July 22, Joy the Clown on July 29 and What’s in the Dirt on Aug. 5. Knight expects up to 60 kids in that program.

The program has increased in participation each year, Knight said, even in this age of Internet and video games.

“There’s nothing else to do in Richmond County,” Knight said, “and the programs are all free. Where else will they see a 20-foot snake or a sea turtle? Kids don’t have the option to travel to see some of these things.”

The free program also serves as a fun way for children of all ages to continue improving their reading skills over the summer months. This year’s program begins a week after school lets out and concludes a week before the 2014-15 school year begins.

Pre-school kids, ages 4-5, have summer program times set for 10 a.m. on four Thursdays — July 17, Booming with Animals; July 24, Mad about Science; July 31, Animal Farm; and Aug. 7, What’s Popping. Another 60 children are expected to participate in the pre-school program.

Both of the younger groups will meet each time at Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham. For the older children ages 6 and up, each of the county’s three libraries in Rockingham, Hamlet and Ellerbe have special times during the day set to welcome up to 350 children.

That’s a large turnout, Knight said — so large, in fact, that the number of participants, along with family members who also come for the hour-long programs, exceeded the state fire marshal’s occupancy limit. There was no choice but to separate the younger crowd into its own groups.

At 10 a.m. on June 18 in Hamlet (910-582-3477), kids will be wowed with Rock Star Magic, followed by: June 25, A Matter of Science; July 2, Germs are Fizzling Alive; July 9, Booming with Mad Science; and July 11, Grand Finale Fun Day.

At Kemp Memorial Library in Ellerbe (910-652-6130), the fun begins at 2 p.m. on July 2 with Booming Mad Science, followed by: Fizzing Fit with Richmond Raiders on July 9, Crazy About Science on July 16; Fizz … the Secret is Out with Steve Brogan on July 23; Pop into Reading on July 30; and Grand Finale on Aug. 1.

In Rockingham (910-895-6338), kids can begin the summer program at 10 a.m. on July 16 with Cold Blooded Encounters; Fizz … the Secret is Out on July 23; Energy, Energy, Energy on July 30; Mad Science on Aug. 6 and Rock Star Magic will be featured in the Grand Finale on Aug. 13.

In addition to the regularly scheduled programs, each child who attends a scheduled summer reading program will receive a backpack with a free book. There’s only one catch, Knight said.

“What we hope the kids do with that book bag is bring it back to the library and check out some books,” she said.


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  • Jason Buckner

    “They’ll give me money to get rid of me,” Knight said with pride.

    I LOL’d.
    Debbie is awesome and and >a href=””>Rock Star Magic is jaw-dropping.

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