Summer reading gets scientific at library

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 13, 2014

The summer reading programs at the Sterling Heights Public Library have been around for years, and this year, they have it down to a science.

Library public relations and programs coordinator Kathryn Ribant Payne said the upcoming reading and activity programs are designed to engage the mind during a season when the outdoors are a tempting distraction.

Ribant Payne said this summer’s programs are taking on a new theme.

“One of the big overriding things of the summer is the fact that our themes for summer reading this year are all science,” she said. “We have a theme every year.”

As in other years, the library will encourage people young and old to partake in the summer reading programs, which offer chances to win prizes. Ribant Payne said the reading programs run June 16-Aug. 9, and participants are invited to record their progress online.

The adult summer reading program, Literary Elements, challenges participants to read for 960 minutes, Ribant Payne said. The teen reading program, Spark a Reaction, requires 800 minutes of reading, she said.

Ribant Payne said the children’s program, Fizz, Boom, Read, requires 480 minutes of reading. The beginning of the children’s summer reading series is marked with an outdoor chalk-drawing event June 16. A summer reading party, held after the reading season ends, will take place Aug. 16.

According to library public services coordinator Karen Stine, some of the biggest hits among books for adults include “The Goldfinch,” by Donna Tartt; “Bark,” by Lorrie Moore; and “The Good Luck of Right Now,” by Matthew Quick.

In an emailed document, Sterling Heights youth services librarian Barbara Van Havermaat listed some of the most popular reads for kids, such as a story about bullying called “Wonder,” by R. J. Palacio.

“Books I expect to gain in popularity over the summer due to movie tie-ins are ‘Maleficent’ and the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ series,” the email reads, “and of course, there are popular classics like ‘Harry Potter’ and the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books, which have stood the test of time and are always finding a new group of readers.” 

Besides the reading programs, the summer promises plenty of entertainment, hobbies, seminars and enjoyable activities for children, teens and adults, Ribant Payne said.

For instance, adults can learn about the solar system June 12 from astronomer Mike Best. The culinary-minded can learn how to make “A’peeling Fruit Garnishes” June 26, and learn about vegetarian cooking from Whole Foods Market representatives Aug. 7.

Older kids and teens in sixth through 12th grade may take part in an Iron Chef activity July 17 and learn how to prepare no-bake desserts Aug. 7.

Younger children may explore science with a June 23 volcano activity, the June 24 Mad Science Social, the July 29 Doug Scheer Wacky Science Day and an Aug. 2 dinosaur activity.

The idea, Ribant Payne said, is to combine the themes of science with activities that would still be appealing enough to pull them into the library during the summer.

“We want to have stuff for people that’s educational, and we want to have stuff that is fun,” she said.

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Public Library and its calendar of summer events by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2665.