In some areas, April’s one of the rainiest months of the year, and Tahlequah is no exception.

But instead of bemoaning the lack of outdoor activity, why not exercise your gray matter and curl up with a good book?

April 2-8 is National Library and School Media Week - a time to celebrate the contributions of libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. April also hosts International Children’s Book Day, Thank Your Librarian Day and Stories Day.

According to the American Library Association, research conducted in the 1950s showed Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Alarmed that Americans weren’t reading as much, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed the National Book Committee, a nonprofit citizen organization, in 1954.

In 1957, the committee developed a plan for National Library Week based on the idea that once people were motivated to read, they would support and use libraries. With the cooperation of ALA and the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958, with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”

International Children’s Book Day has been observed since 1967 on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2.

Robin Mooney, youth services coordinator for the Tahlequah Public Library, recently began a youth advisory board for the library, to gain insight to young peoples’ reading needs.

“Our Youth Advisory Board has realized a good deal of success,” said Mooney. “We generally have between 10-15 teens at meetings.”

The first activity the board held was a scavenger hunt.

“We had quite a few teens and a large number of children participate,” said Mooney. “The kids have some really good ideas.”

Mooney is planning a summer program for teens, similar to that of the summer children’s program, with age-appropriate activities and materials.

“Teens like the library since we’ve added a number of fantasy book series,” said Mooney. “I also make a point of soliciting suggestions from the Teen Advisory Board and from teen library patrons.”

Tahlequah Public Library isn’t just for readers, either.

“We’re having baby lap time this spring,” said Mooney. “We invite parents, babies and toddlers to come and enjoy stories read out loud. Our goal is to create lifelong readers, beginning as early as possible.”

Kim Hamby, Woodall fifth-grade teacher, hopes to achieve the same, and developed a unique program to promote reading.

“I call it ‘Book Buddies,’” said Hamby. “I have my fifth-graders spend time reading to kindergartners. I think it’s made a difference in the kindergartners’ interest level for reading.”

In addition to helping the smaller children, the program has had a positive effect on the fifth-graders. The bigger kids develop pride in their work and become role models for the younger kids, according to Hamby.

According to the Education World Web site, which is a tool for educators, National Library Week is a good way to spark many teachers’ imaginations.

“How about a reading day, just for fun?” suggests sixth-grade English teacher Bridget Shinn, from Mann Magnet Middle School in Little Rock, Ark. “We bring pillows or cushions ... and just read!

“We also do book talks,” Shinn added. “The talks are short and sweet -- just title, author, summary, and favorite incident, scene, or character. It really gets the students excited. It’s contagious – I do one, too!”

At Salmon River (New York) Central School, kindergarten teacher Linda Sears has her students create a book, titled “If I Could Be a Storybook Character, I Would Be (fill in the blank).”

“The students draw a picture and dictate why they chose that character,” Sears told Education World. “I usually draw a picture of Cinderella on the cover of my book. On the inside I write ‘because I would like to marry a prince.’ The children get a kick out of that!”

Although library usage in some areas may be on the wane, the same cannot be said of Tahlequah’s public library. According to Mooney, it attracts as many adults as it does children.

“We’re a very busy library,” said Mooney. “We have a lot of traffic every day we’re open.”

Mooney observed an entire family at the library Wednesday at noon.

“We have a whole family here now,” said Mooney. “It’s great. A mother, father and two children all came in and are looking around and reading together.”

Taking children to the library often falls to stay-at-home moms and daycare providers, according to Mooney.

“It’s fantastic to see fathers taking time to read to their children at the library,” she said. “Not only that, but it’s even better that children get a chance to observe their fathers reading, even if it’s not to them directly.”



Teen reading

The following is a selection of titles from the Young Adult Library Services Association list of nominations for the 2007 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. Titles are listed by category.

Humorous

• “Bat Boy Lives!: The Weekly World News Guide to Politics, Culture, Celebrities, Alien Abductions and the Mutant Freaks That Shape Our World” by David Parel

• “Be More Chill” by Ned Vizzini

Creative

• “Picture This: How Pictures Work” by Molly Bang

• “Got Tape? Roll Out the Fun With Duct Tape” by Ellie Schiedermayer

Nonfiction

• “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote

• “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers

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