COVINGTON - This week, schools started their summer vacations, and the Newton County Library staff already is seeing a rush into its building.
"We're always much busier in the summer" than during the school year, Children Services Manager Carol Durusau said. "People are always looking for things to do in the summer with their kids, and it's free and close, especially with gas prices the way they are."
She said even before gas prices sky-rocketed, families always seem to flock to the library during the summer.
"They are always trying to find something to do here," Durusau said. "We have a lot of the same families come year after year."
This summer, children of all ages and adults can find something to do at the library.
The children's department kicked off its Spectacular Summer Shows program for elementary school-age students Wednesday morning to a crowd of elementary school children and their parents and grandparents.
The first of eight presentations included Loganville storyteller Lenore Loos, who dressed up like a ladybug along with her two stuffed pets, Ralph the dog and Pansy the monkey, to read "The Very Lazy Ladybug" by Elizabeth Finn.
Future programs include more storytellers, musical guests, a magician and a puppeteer, typically all from the Atlanta area. A full schedule can be found at the library or on its Web site, www.newtonlibrary.org. They are held at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Wednesday until July 16 with each event usually lasting about 45 minutes.
Durusau encourages future guests to arrive a few minutes early, as tickets are required for entrance since the room is limited to 180 people. She said children under the age of 8 should have a parent present with them, while older guests can attend without a guardian.
The library also encourages children of all ages to participate in its Summer Reading Club.
From now until July 26, those under 18 years old can fill out a reading log form. Readers will mark off each slot for every 10 minutes they read until they fill up a page, which totals 10 hours.
For every sheet turned in to the children's department desk with up to 40 hours until July 26, students will receive prizes like pencils, stickers, restaurant coupons and others. After 40 hours of reading, the library allows that child to select a book of his or her choice.
Durusau said the readers can choose any book, magazine or newspaper they like; they also can listen to books on tape or CDs or have someone else read to them.
"We want kids to read things they enjoy reading," she said. "We have summer reading lists from the schools here ... but we just want them to keep up with their time; if they read the same book over and over again, that's OK, too."
She said the library usually has at least 1,000 participants in the Summer Reading Club.
According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an average student who doesn't read or attempt to learn anything over the summer can lose as much as 2.5 months of learning.
"We encourage families to participate in the low- to no-cost museum and library programs that are available in virtually every state," said Anne-Imelda Radice, director of the institute, in a press release. "The programs are so much fun. ... Summer is a great time of year for children to choose books and discover the true joys of reading."
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.