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Library works for young readers


The Shafter Public Library kicked off this summer with a myriad of family-friendly events that aimed to entice Shafter’s young readers. During the first week of June, the library hosted four exciting events in an effort to encourage the community’s children to sign up for the annual Summer Reading Challenge, an activity that Kern County libraries hold every summer. Children earn a prize for reading ten books or more over the course of the summer when they bring their list back to the library. The Summer Reading Challenge is for all ages, but the events held last week by the Shafter Library were especially exciting for Shafter’s youngest residents.

“Summer reading is important because it helps to combat the summer slide, when the kids are out of school and not involved with anything educational,” said Ethan Picman, the librarian at the Shafter Library. “The Summer Reading Challenge encourages kids to keep reading and interacting with books even when they are not in school.”

Anyone who walked into the library on the afternoon of Monday, June 3rd, would have witnessed a sight bordering on chaos. The Summer Reading Kickoff Party was the first event of the week, and it included board games, puzzles, juice boxes, and lots of pizza! While many children sat on the carpet enjoying their free lunch, others ran through the book aisles, trying not to step on their companions. Some library workers handed out food while others tried to keep up with the constant flow of patrons checking out books.

“Students in our Shafter Learning Center Reading Lab class loved the pizza party!” reported Melissa Bergen, one of the Learning Center’s teachers. “Many students were new to the Learning Center/Library space, and this was a great way to make them feel welcome,” she said. The Kickoff Party was a great start to the week, as the library was filled to the brim with participants. “We definitely exceeded the turnout from last year’s kickoff party,” Ethan Picman reflected after the event. “It was a big success.”

On Tuesday, the library welcomed a California Science Teller to give a demonstration in one of the Learning Center’s classrooms. Once the kids were all properly seated on the floor, Science Teller Shoshanna dove into the daring tale of two characters who discover an alien spacecraft in the woods. The two children embark on an adventure full of loud storms, exploding laundry machines, evil scientists, and slimy green extraterrestrials. The audience hung on Shoshanna’s every word as she sprayed them with rain from the storm, set off flying rockets, and leapt around the room in her tie-dye lab coat.

After she finished her story, Shoshanna took a bow and proceeded to explain the chemical reactions that provided the special effects in her story. Hands shot up in the air as she asked for volunteers to help recreate the potato launcher and the alien slime. “We had three times the attendance of last year at the Science Teller event,” said Picman. With over 50 children and parents in attendance, this event put the Learning Center’s classroom to good use, even if it may have left some potato remnants on the ceiling.

Both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s events were held in the Shafter Veteran’s Hall rather than the library. “Because of last year’s attendance for the Magic Show and Roaming Reptiles, we decided to move both of those events to the Vet’s Hall instead of having them in the library,” Picman explained. At the Magic Show, magician Chris Lopez defied the laws of nature by making books fly, phones disappear, and by predicting the future with his multiple card tricks.

Though the audience was smaller than expected, they “oohed and ahhed with amazement at Lopez’s many talents.

The grand finale of the week was a visit from Brandon Fowler of Roaming Reptiles on Thursday, June 6th. With over 75 people in attendance, this was definitely the most popular event of the week. As Fowler displayed his snakes, lizards, and tranchulas, the audience had one of two reactions: the squeamish folks provided gasps and squeals at the introduction of each new creature, while the braver attendees stretched out their hands to stroke the scaley, smooth, or hairy backs of Fowler’s impressive animals. There was no doubt, however, which reptile stole the show. Midnight, the black and white Argentine Tegu lizard, was the star. She patiently waited while Fowler passed her around, so every eager child could have a chance to hold her. “It’s alright, just give her a big hug,” he told one girl as he placed the large lizard on her shoulder. “She’s always the most popular,” Fowler admitted.

The workers at the Shafter Library are satisfied with the popularity of their summer kickoff week. “Overall, it was a success,” said Ethan Picman. “We’ve had really positive feedback from the community. Everyone enjoyed themselves, and they were grateful to have interesting and educational programs for the community in Shafter.”

If you missed one or more of these events, don’t worry! You can always check out the library’s wide selection of books on science, magic, and reptiles. The library also has many more events still to come this summer! Stop by on Thursdays for Lego Club, Knitting and Crochet Club, or STEAM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). The library also provides new Scavenger Hunts and Trivia Challenges every other week so you can always come in and test your literacy skills. These and many other events are happening right now at the Shafter Public Library, so make sure you don’t miss out on the fun!

Cara Hudson works with the City of Shafter's Learning Center.


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