Hazel Park District Library announces summer reading adventures

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published June 17, 2024


HAZEL PARK — Exotic animals, edible slime, treasure hunts, and a tightrope-walking juggler are among the highlights of the 2024 summer reading program at the Hazel Park District Library.

The program began June 11, with signup at the library, located at 123 E. Nine Mile Road. Library patrons can enroll at any time, and there is no charge.

The library also has a new way to earn prizes, in the form of “book bucks.” For each hour that a participant logs reading (or being read to), they earn two book bucks that can be used to purchase prizes out of the display case, such as a Squishmallows plush toy.

In addition, the teens who complete the summer reading program will be invited to an overnight party at the library on Friday, Aug. 9.

The program began with “Animal Magic” on Tuesday, June 11. Mark Rosenthal, a Nickelodeon Entertainer of the Year, brought a selection of live rescue animals not commonly seen in Michigan, giving attendees a chance to meet them up close as he strolled around the room sharing interesting facts about each species, as well as amusing anecdotes from around the world.

“He’s been here before, and he’s good with the kids. He’s also good with the animals. It’s a rescue, and he treats them well,” said Amy Beem, the children’s librarian.

Attendees will get to safely meet each animal up close as Rosenthal walks around the room. He will also share interesting facts about each species, and hilarious stories from around the world.

At press time, the library planned to continue the adventure theme June 18 with an event called “Pirates and Mermaids,” where guests were set to make crafts such as pirate swords and mermaid purses, and play games like walking the plank and hunting for treasure.

On Tuesday, June 25 — at 1 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. — fans of the “Percy Jackson” fantasy series can enjoy decorating their own shield, crafting wooden bead necklaces or bracelets, creating custom shirts with “puffy paint,” roasting marshmallows in a fire pit, learning archery skills, and trying out different science experiments.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, Book Bingo returns. Attendees can play bingo for a chance to win a book of their choice from a selection displayed on a table. Each successful bingo earns a book.

On Tuesday, July 9 — at 1 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. — there will be a Star Wars-themed party for the entire family, where attendees can create their own Jedi lightsaber, decorate cookies and play games such as learning Jedi skills. Guests are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite characters and get their pictures taken in the photography booth. There will even be milkshakes made with the “blue milk” seen in the movies.

On Tuesday, July 16, a program starring “The Mad Slimicist” — real name Amelia Wenn, age 9 — will let guests play with their food by making beach-themed edible slime. Children will start with pudding and then mix in food coloring, tapioca, gummy bears, jellies and more. They will also get to decorate cookies with fondant and paint them with food coloring.

Beem said the idea is to treat food as an artistic medium, one that engages multiple senses including taste, sight, touch, and even sound. Wenn will also teach attendees about her business, and the skills she has developed as a child entrepreneur.

And at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, the magician known simply as “The Amazing Flec” returns to the library, bringing his signature brand of contact juggling, which uses crystal balls that appear to levitate and whirl along his limbs.

This year, he will also demonstrate tightrope walking. Guests will get to learn more about this performance art, as well as the benefits it provides, such as improved coordination.

“We have added tightrope walking since the summer reading program has an adventure theme this year, and what’s more adventurous than the carnival,” Beem said.

As a side note, the library’s storytime sessions for young children will take place at different parks around Hazel Park this summer, instead of the usual venue at the library. The readings will take place under a pavilion at each park, and the place, date and time each week will be announced at the library’s website. The program is for ages 0-5, but older siblings are also welcome.

Randy Ernst-Meyer, the teen and adult librarian, said that the coming months will be an exciting time for the library. In addition to the summer reading program, the library will receive its first three “learning pods” in July. The grant-funded pods are soundproof rooms with ADA-compliant accessibility features that will serve as private spaces for business meetings, school projects, tutoring, instrument practice, and even recording podcasts.

“State Rep. Mike McFall (D-District 8) was able to organize an appropriation so that the library could afford these wonderful and very useful spaces,” Ernst-Meyer said via email. “This will be a very big summer here at the Hazel Park District Library.”

For more information, call the Hazel Park District Library at (248) 546-4095 or go to hazel-park.lib.mi.us.