Library offers not just books, but food, fun

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By Bryan Marshall

The Grant County Public Library hopes a healthy lunch, an educational activity and reading help with Fueling the Mind during the summer.
The program gives children a chance to pick up books, eat a free meal and have fun, said Wynita Worley, public services librarian.
“Fueling the Mind is vital because it incorporates so many elements of learning: a consistent, healthy lunch; reading and a fun learning activity at the library or with other agencies to keep a child’s mind curious and flexible,” she said. “Studies show that children who do not read or visit a library or museum during the summer lose skills and cannot catch up. By the sixth grade, those students who don’t read and learn over the summer can be two to three reading grade levels behind their peers.”
For the program, Grant County Schools Food Services provide a free lunch for children 18 years old and younger.
The Grant County Extension Office and Grant County Parks Department also offer activities after the children have eaten and checked out library materials.
“It provides a varied experience to the kids and introduces them to people and county agencies they may not know,” Worley said.
Funded through a grant, the program also branches outside the walls of the library and into communities around Grant County.
“The library noticed last year that the same families came to the library’s lunchtime programs,” Worley said. “While we were thrilled to see those parents year after year, we knew there were children perhaps stuck at home while their parents work. The state library agreed and this year’s grant required us to go into neighborhoods to work with kids.”
In just one week, the library issued 84 library cards and checked out 271 books at the outreach sites.
More than 500 lunches also have been served at the library and all the outreach sites.
Worley said the library is trying to stress that reading is fun.
While students are told what to read during the school year, she said summer reading can be anything they want from fairy tales to books about snakes.
While most people assume Fueling the Mind is for young children, Worley said the program is for anyone age 18 and under.
“Most of our audience is school-age, but we do have some young adult materials for teenagers and books for adults,” she said. “Parents, grandparents or caregivers can also sign up for a temporary library card for the summer and check out books too. Kids are more likely to read if their parents read too. Plus, we encourage everyone to sign up for summer reading just as we do inside the library. We want to make reading a priority for all ages.”
For more information about Fueling the Mind, call 824-2080.