Summer at the Library—it’s for every child and teen, and parents, too

Themes let kids dig into interests

“Summer is a time when kids and teens can dig into things they’re interested in,” said Ellen Duffy, TRL’s Youth Services Coordinator. “Even more than helping kids gain and maintain reading skills, the library is about keeping the excitement about reading and learning and life alive and active! It’s about giving kids and teens opportunities to explore, to play, to make friends – to discover new characters and places in books.”


Last year’s summer themes encouraged kids to dream big and teens to “own the night.” This year we dig down. Through books, programs, activities and special performances, children will “Dig into Reading,” exploring farms and gardens, dinosaurs and other fossils, and creatures who live below the ground and under the sea. Teens will seek “Beneath the Surface,” unearthing worlds and creatures hidden underground and in the sea, unraveling secrets and mysteries, discovering the inner self, and shining a light on underground societies.


Programs and Special Events

Libraries will host professional performances, lead programs and book discussions, and present art activities, scavenger hunts, and stuffed animal sleepovers. They’ll conduct games, activities and contests, both in libraries and online, and guide kids and parents to the best books and films.


Each Timberland library will present two or more children’s and all-ages performers, including Glenda Bonin (puppets), Brownsmead Flats (folk music), Buck and Elizabeth (music, ventriloquism and humor), Ian Dobson (Caribbean steel drum music and culture), Eric Haines (comedian-juggler-one man band), and Chris Fascione (literature in stories, mime, and clowning). Favorites such as magician Jeff Evans, noise impressionist Charlie Williams, medieval era re-enactors the Knights of Veritas, and others will perform at several libraries.


In keeping with this year’s children’s theme, new family programs such as, “Composting” and “Dig into Dinosaurs,” have been developed by Timberland youth librarians. Full of stories, activities and creative crafts, they will be presented at many branches. Story time programs will also be enriched with theme-related books and activities.


“Read & Feed” has become a practice during major system-wide youth programs. All summer, people may bring canned and other non-perishable food items to their TRL branches for local food banks to distribute.


Beginning at the Beginning

Timberland libraries have a strong focus on early learning with programs throughout the year for preschoolers beginning with babies. This summer, a new Read-to-Me Log suggests activities for families to do with their pre-readers. The activities engage five early learning skills: talking, reading, singing, playing, and writing—or for really little ones—scribbling.


Children who are about ready to read have a vocabulary of about 15,000 words. Summer story times and other library programs help build that vocabulary by introducing preschoolers to many “rare” words – words not often used in conversations with young children.


Onward: The School Ages

The new Children’s Dig into Reading Log invites kids to extend summer reading experiences by attending library programs, reading about dinosaurs, drawing a picture about a book they have read, making up a story and making frequent visits to the library. These experiences also have literacy connections, including reading, creative thinking, creative writing, storytelling, and making reading choices based on personal interests.


“Whether it’s dinosaurs, gardens, bugs, robots, outer space, the deep sea, unicorns, caves, places to see, famous people…kids’ natural curiosity inspires and builds a love of learning,” said Duffy.


Teens set out, “Beneath the Surface”

New this year, TRL is piloting a program to bring teens together around one book and author. All teens are invited to read or listen to “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer, the critically acclaimed author of the young adult science fiction series, The Lunar Chronicles. Ms. Meyer will talk with teens about her books and writing career at six Timberland libraries throughout the five counties.


“Cinder” is a futuristic retelling of the Cinderella tale set in a dystopian New Beijing. Cinder is a gifted mechanic, a cyborg whose robot body parts allow others to treat her as a second-class citizen. When Prince Kai visits her shop with a broken android, and her sweet stepsister Peony contracts the deadly new plague, Cinder pursues a way to help them both, while keeping the secret of her mysterious past and who she really is beneath the surface.


Programs around the novel include discussions of the book and creative activities related to the story (“Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles” and “Cinder Celebrations”). All teens are invited to visit Meyer at libraries hosting her this July. The schedule for the author visits are as follows:


July 25

  • Noon-1 p.m.    Ocean Park Timberland Library, (360) 665-4184
  • 6-7 p.m.           Aberdeen Timberland Library, (360) 533-2360

July 26

  • 2-3 p.m.           Winlock Timberland Library, (360) 785-3461
  • 7-8 p.m.           Olympia Timberland Library, (360) 352-0595

July 27

  • 11 a.m.            -noon   Centralia Timberland Library, (360) 736-0183
  • 3-4 p.m.           Shelton Timberland Library,   (360) 426-1362


TRL has lined up several online activities for teens including two contests, Minecraft and Book Trailers. Visit and beginning the week of June 10 for all the details.


The many at-the-library programs for teens include “Zines for Teens,” books-and-snacks parties, movies, gaming, Minecraft parties, and numerous arts and crafts activities. Also for teens is a bookmark entitled “Brainy Ways to Track Your Books,” featuring book-tracking websites and seven ways to “unearth a zombie.” The bookmark is also a prize entry form.


Prizes and coupons

Summer at the Library abounds with opportunities to win prizes and mementos. To start things off, during the week of June 24 to 29, each Timberland library will draw three winners of one-day free passes to any Washington State Park. Each pass admits one vehicle to a State park on a summer day of the winner’s choice. The passes are provided by Washington State Parks in honor of the its 100th Centennial. The drawing is open only to children and teens who sign up for the Library’s Summer Reading Program. One entry per child or teen.


Other prizes offered by every Timberland library include books, passes to NorthwestTrek or the Point Defiance Zoo and the new Hands On Children’s Museum as well as coupons for free pizza from Papa Murphy’s and small souvenirs of summer at the library. More coupons and prizes from individual libraries are provided by local businesses and Friends of the Library groups.


To parents and caregivers

Library summer programs help parents keep children active and engaged during the summer. Infants and pre-readers, participating with you, their parents—your children’s first and most important teachers—develop language and a love of books and learning.


“The library is an exciting summer destination, alive with performers, hands on programs, story times, family events, books, games, computers and welcoming staff. It’s a place to connect with friends, old and new, and to grow,” said Ms. Duffy.