Reading Between the Lines, Truckee children embrace the magic of books
It was a sunny, pleasant summer afternoon, but the Truckee Library was packed with kids who were not interested in hanging out by the pool, playing with friends or watching TV.
Instead it was “Bertie Botts’ Every-Flavored Beans,” magic potion drinks and yes, even books that entertained the young audience last Thursday afternoon.
Approximately 75 children and 40 adults expressed their excitement for reading and the latest literary craze, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, at the library’s summer reading program kick-off Harry Potter party.
With the books’ signature lightning bolts painted on their foreheads, children adorned in capes milled around the library to document what books they have read since school got out and accept the challenge to read a grand total of 2,000 hours by summer’s end.
The kick-off event occurred just two days before Rowling’s fourth book in the Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” hit the shelves at bookstores and libraries across the nation.
“It was always said that by the year 2000 books would be passe, but here we are with a literary hit bigger than ever,” said Truckee children’s librarian Teri Renne, adding that the timing of new Harry Potter book was a perfect way to jumpstart the summer reading program.
“What attracts people to Harry Potter books? The magic involved and the idea of kids having the power over their own surroundings appeals to kids,” Renne said.
With more than 150 Truckee children signed up for the summer reading program, Renne expects more than 200 will have participated by the end of the summer. Children between the ages of 5 and 13 are asked to document the number of books and hours they spend reading this summer. They receive prizes along the way, and after they have read for 25 hours, they get a grand prize for a gift certificate at the Bookshelf.
“The whole point of the summer reading program is that kids won’t lose the reading skills they gained throughout the school year during summer break,” Renne said. “It’s a wonderful way to spend the summer.”
The Harry Potter party featured face painting, games, magical treats and a trivia contest.
“It was awesome. Even those kids who hadn’t read Harry Potter books yet got wrapped up in the excitement of it,” Renne said.
The summer reading program has been getting bigger each year, she said, which has to do with the library’s growth and climbing popularity.
“Participation is way up, which is nice. We’ve got some good readers in Truckee,” she said.
And the timing couldn’t have been better. The release of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” on Saturday brought record sales for booksellers all over the globe and locally as well.
Lydia Sparksworthy, manager of the Bookshelf stores, reported the Truckee store sold more than 260 copies and the Tahoe City store more than 200 copies of the new book as of Tuesday. The remaining books the store has in stock are already reserved by customers.
The Bookshelf opened an hour early Saturday morning for a Harry Potter party, and when employees came to open the store, children and parents alike were waiting at the door for the new book’s release.
“It was a real hit. It was crazy,” Sparksworthy said. Face painting, games and puzzles were also offered that day at the store.
A portion of the sales of the new book at Bookshelf will go to Arts For The Schools or the literacy tutoring program in Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District elementary schools – the choice is up to the customer. The Bookshelf will have another 300 copies for each store in the next week or two, Sparksworthy said.
The Truckee Library has eight copies of the new book, with four currently in circulation.
Sparksworthy said she believes the Harry Potter series has helped make a difference in getting kids excited about reading.
“They get a lot of kids interested in reading, even kids who had not an inkling for reading before,” she said.
The newest book is more than 700 pages long, the longest book in the series this far, and Renne and Sparksworthy both say it is more advanced than the previous books in the series.
Megan Sadowski, who will begin the 7th grade in the fall, helped the librarians out with face painting, conducting games and checking other children’s book lists at the Harry Potter party.
She explained while she isn’t a huge fan of Harry Potter books, she has read them all and enjoys the “weird stories.”
“I’m going to want to read the new one to see what they do,” she said.
She has read at least 10 books so far this summer.
“I like reading, so I read a lot. I read before bed or whenever there’s nothing to do,” she said, adding it helps with succeeding in all school subjects. “If you can’t read, you can’t do the assignments.”
Renne said that not only are children reading Harry Potter, but adults are too.
“I am surprised at how many adults check them out for themselves,” said Renne, who has finished the first two books in the series and plans to read the other two books this summer.
Approximately 3.8 million copies of the $29.95 “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” were generated during the first U.S. print run, and 2 million more copies are planned to be printed in the next few months. In major cities, stores opened at midnight on July 8, and many reported it was the biggest night in the history of bookselling.
The Truckee library summer reading program will also host the following upcoming events:
– July 13 – Arts and Crafts
– July 20 – Railroad Adventures with local railroad buff,
Nelson Van Gundy
– July 27 – Mr. Wizard
– Aug. 3 – A Look at Olde Tyme Truckee and
Tahoe with Dianne Fix
– Aug. 10 – Arts and Illustration with children’s book illustrator Susan Guevara
– Aug. 17 – Mystery guests and party
For information, call the library at 582-7846.
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