Reading, Reading

Summer Reading will soon be upon us! I am fortunate to be invited to tell stories at many libraries during the summer months and always develop a program that fits the national summer reading theme adopted by most public libraries. Having been a librarian myself, I know the deep planning and work that goes into making these programs attractive, fun, and rewarding for the children, teens and adults who participate.

This year's theme, Dig Deep! has so many possibilities for programs it was difficult to chose just one. Dirt, caves, tunnels, mining, earth science, gardening, dragons, underground insects and animals are just a few of the ideas that came to mind. I finally settled on buried treasure. Even in my state of West Virginia stories abound about lost Civil War gold, and then there are the stories of famous jewels, pirate treasure, caves, gold and silver mines...the stories are all out there, waiting to be found and told.

To find the stories, I must read. And read. And read. I read with specific goals in mind: does the story fit the theme? Is it suitable for young audiences? Often my audiences have 3-5 years olds attending, and I do not want to leave them out of the fun, so if a story is too advanced for them, can I adapt it in some way to make it work? Are there places to add chants or movement to the story? What props, if any, might I want to use? Can the story be told with puppets (I often have children use my puppets and guide the dialog of the story as we tell it. It is great fun to tell this way and allows interaction and audience participation.

Then there are songs to find. What songs go with buried treasure, caves and jewels? My quest here may be more difficult, or perhaps I'll have to make one up!

I have collected "treasure chests": little chests of different sizes and shapes that will each hold an item related to a story. An audience member will pick a chest, we'll open it, and that's the story we will tell next. I also have some large "gems" (paperweights really) that will add to the table display. There are so many possibilities, and only so much time to tell all these wonderful tales.

So back I go to the books and planning. Perhaps you will be able to come to one of these programs and enjoy the stories with me? There is always room for another listener, of any age.