Kids recently spent an afternoon racing around the parking lot of the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour as part of the kickoff for the annual summer reading program.

Instead of reading, they spent their time playing games, building various objects and interacting with animals at a petting zoo.

The reading will come later.

“The theme for this year’s program is Build a Better World,” said Lola Snyder, head of youth services at the library. “So a lot of our activities this year focus around building.”

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Children and their parents were invited to build using cups at the cup-stacking booth organized by Habitat for Humanity of Jackson County, the library’s community partner for the event.

There also was a station where kids could build with blocks and then knock it down using a small wrecking ball.

Popcorn and cotton candy were available at the entrance to the library, while an obstacle course was available for younger children in the children’s area of the library.

“It’s a good event. They are going down the bouncy slide right now,” Kristen Bear of Seymour said while she watched her children with a group of other moms. “We picked out books and signed up also.”

Bear said she thinks the summer reading program is great.

“I’m a teacher, and this program is a great way to promote reading,” she said. “If kids don’t view reading as fun, they are not going to read.”

The purpose of the event is get the word out about start of the summer reading program, Snyder said, “… because we think reading is important.”

The petting zoo organized by the Seymour High School FFA chapter was a popular draw, especially for sisters Anastaesia Fields, 11, and Lorelei, 8.

“My goal is to read every day,” Anastaesia said, who added she hoped to read 15 books by the end of the program.

Her younger sister also said she planned to read every day but only planned on finishing 14 books.

The summer reading program is open for anyone from “just born to adult,” Snyder said.

This year, participants are expected to set their own goals for their reading and can have books read to them as part of the goals if they are too young to read themselves.

“A child reading a chapter book would be far more challenging than an adult reading one, and by letting them set their own goals, we can let them set the goal to read to their children, as well,” Snyder said.

Prizes will be awarded for meeting challenges at the end of the summer.

“I think we have something like $8,000 donated for prizes,” said Julia Aker, director of the library.

Aker also said enrolling in the summer reading program automatically enters readers for prize drawings throughout the program.

Participants also may compete in age-appropriate library bingo, where they get a list of tasks to complete at the library to win prizes.

Most of the tasks require interaction with the library staff, something that is done intentionally, Snyder said,

“We want to stress the social aspects of the library, so the goal was to make people ask us questions or talk to us,” she said of the ongoing program.

In addition to the events outside, there were inside activities, including a clown who made balloon animals and volunteers who painted faces.

“I think it’s great. I’m glad Seymour has things like this because I ran into people I know,” said Alison Daniel, who also was at the event with her children. “It’s a fun, free event.”

Kickoff events also were conducted at the library branches in Crothersville and Medora.

The summer reading program runs through July 31.

At a glance

The Jackson County Public Library’s Build a Better World summer reading program runs through July 31 at the Seymour, Crothersville and Medora libraries and on the Discovery Bus.

The program is free and open to all ages, newborn through adult.

Participants may sign up online at home or at the library at links.myjclibrary.org/summerreading or at myjclibrary.org.

Participants set their own goals of how much to read for themselves and/or their children from the options provided. Reached goals can then be marked on the calendar included with sign-up information.

To help participants reach their goals, the library will give away a book each week. The book choices will be age-appropriate for young readers, mid-grade readers, young adults and adults.

Additionally, the library will have grand prizes available. New this year is the ability for all ages to try to win any prize chosen from the list provided.

Slips for prize entry can be earned in three ways:

  • Visiting the library
  • Attending programs
  • Completing BUILD card activities
  • BUILD (Bingo) cards allow participants to complete additional literacy activities
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Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.