By Damion Smalls
John L. Dart Library Branch manager K’Lani Green is leading the call for inform the community that Charleston County Public Library is collaborating with the Charleston County School District to host their Summer Reading Programs for young children, teens and adults. Registration opened May 1 and the program runs from June 1 to July 31. The theme this year is “Libraries Rock!”
Located at 1067 King Street, the library is named after Rev. John L. Dart and was established by his family in 1927 as the first free public library for African-Americans in Charleston. His life’s mission was championing civil rights, education for Black children and philanthropy.
Dart Library children’s librarian Sally Young and young adult specialist Julian Gooding are passionate about the importance of these programs for youthful minds. The summer brain drain phenomenon is real. Mental inactivity during those crucial months away from school can position a child behind their peers educationally. These programs are aimed to keep students committed to learning while existing as a entertaining way for adults to connect with their kids if they choose to join in on the fun.
Gooding holds literacy workshops and training sessions for local Black youth. “I do a lot within the community that speaks to that community in a creative way, in a fun way where they don’t realize sometimes that they’re actually learning,” he says. His goal is to help them “to understand that there’s so many layers to how you learn, and why learning and literacy more than anything is more important than hair, shoes or clothes.”
The Summer Reading for Babies Program encourages parents of “pre-readers” to engage with their kids in creative ways to instill early literacy skills. Young works with our newest readers by conducting storytimes, using puppets & felt boards, visiting local preschools and singing with the kids to celebrate literacy.
All reading materials will count – books, magazines, web articles, graphic novels, social media posts and even audiobooks are allowed to be tracked and tallied for prizes. All Charleston County School District students are automatically enrolled in the Summer Reading Programs in accordance to their age level. Young says the synergy between CCSD and CCPL “makes it really easy for the teachers and school librarians because they’ll be able to look at that information and see what reading’s been done throughout the summer. We’re trying to increase that push towards year-long, life-long learning.”
There will a plethora of enticing summer events hosted by the Dart Library, such as the June 5 Summer Reading Kickoff, a June 6 children’s musical theatre performance from Porkchop Productions entitled “RAPunzel”, Storybook Art with Artist and Craftsman Supply on June 21 & July 12, ‘Build a Better World Storytime’ with Charleston County’s Engineering Department on June 19 and an interactive music lesson celebrating Gullah culture courtesy of the Plantation Singers on July 25. All Charleston County Public Library branches will also host events at their locations in June and July.
Prizes for children age 11 and younger range from 5 hours of reading (Charleston RiverDogs game pass, certificate, Wendy’s Frosty coupon and more), 15 hours (South Carolina Reading Medal, Chipotle coupon, sports pass and more) and 30 hours (entry in grand prize drawing, Google toy, free kids meal coupon and more). Adults can earn gift cards and enter the grand prize drawing. Teens that reach reading goals can participate in weekly prize drawings and the grand prize drawing. Each of the Charleston County Public Library’s sixteen branches will reward one grand prize drawing winner on August 1.
Dart Library branch manager K’Lani Green specializes in reading for and with adults. “Though the library’s Summer Reading Programs are largely targeted to children and teens, we do have an adult summer reading program as well. It’s just as equally important to adults to continue reading,” she says. Green reveals that there will be several events aimed at adults to keep them connected to the program. “We will have karaoke music trivia night, with a twist that if you get the answer wrong, you have to sing the song that is the right answer,” an example she details. Green notes that senior citizens have a special program for the summer that enters them into prize drawings for every ten activities they complete. Literacy in a traditional sense, but also literacy in everyday life as with money skills and computer skills are vital aspects to adulthood that Green strives to assist adults with through her work with Dart Library.
Charleston County School District and Charleston County Public Library are also teaming up to provide summer meals for children 18 years old or younger through the Seamless Summer Feeding Program. Breakfast will be offered at nine CCPL branches, including at the Dart Library on Tuesdays from 10am-11am June 5 to July 24.
Go to www.ccpl.org/summeronline or visit any Charleston County Public Library branch to learn more about the 2018 Summer Reading Programs. The website and local libraries have event calendars, additional prize information, the complete Seamless Summer Feeding Program date and time listing, sign up opportunities for those who want to take part that are not Charleston County School District students and instructions on how to keep track of reading for the programs.