The Hazel Park District Library will be hosting summer reading programs all throughout the month of July, including space-themed ones such as Astronaut Training and Rocket Day.

The Hazel Park District Library will be hosting summer reading programs all throughout the month of July, including space-themed ones such as Astronaut Training and Rocket Day.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Hazel Park library announces summer reading lineup for July

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 27, 2019


HAZEL PARK — This year’s summer reading program is space-themed at the Hazel Park District Library, and there is programming to match, including astronaut training and a chance to build and launch your own rocket ship. Fans of “Star Wars” should also take note, with one event dedicated entirely to adventures a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

But there will also be programs more grounded on Earth — quite literally, in the case of the paleontology program about dinosaur fossils buried deep underground. And the month’s lineup closes out with a juggler who is said to defy gravity with crystal balls that somehow whirl around his body.

All programs are free to attend. The library is located at 123 E. Nine Mile Road in Hazel Park. The idea is to get kids through the library doors, encouraging them to crack open a book and keep their minds sharp during the summer recess when the “brain drain” can occur. There are prizes to be won by logging reading hours, as well as bingo squares to be filled simply by attending programs.    

“Summer reading is a valuable experience because reluctant readers can be drawn in by the fun activities,” said Amy Beem, the youth services librarian. “It also encourages reading to become a lifelong habit, and helps children keep their skills up.”

The events this month include:

• Astronaut Training, 1-2 p.m. Tuesday, July 9: Recommended for kids ages 12 and younger, this program involves agility training like the kind astronauts undergo, practicing walking on the moon, dressing up as an astronaut, studying moon rocks, climbing into a spaceship with a window for having their photo taken, and practicing landing a lunar module in a video game. The kids will also get to make an astronaut backpack to wear during the event, and a centrifuge simulator will test their dizziness.

• Rocket Day, 1-3 p.m. Tuesday, July 16: Recommended for ages 18 and younger, this event will center around participants building their own “pop bottle mortars” powered by an explosive mix of Mentos and Diet Coke, and competing to see whose makeshift rocket flies the highest and farthest.

“Rockets capture our awe as no other thing does — just look at the Fourth of July,” said Randy Ernst-Meyer, the teen/adult services librarian. “This is the anniversary of the Apollo landing, and this year’s summer reading is celebrating it.”

• Star Wars, 12:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20: All are invited to this celebration of all things “Star Wars,” with themed cookie decorating; a photo booth; a costume parade; edible experiments; a scavenger hunt with prizes; and make-and-take crafts including lightsabers, Yoda ears, Princess Leia buns and more. There will be games such as shooting the Death Star with foam darts, knocking out stormtroopers, a Jabba the Hutt beanbag toss, movie trivia, “Yoda Says,” and “Whose Line Is It?” Throughout it all, one of the movies will be playing in the background.

“I find all of the (summer reading) programs interesting, but I love ‘Star Wars’ — it is my favorite movie,” Beem said. “I will use any excuse to do a ‘Star Wars’ program!”

• Paleo Joe the Dinosaur Man, 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 23: A real paleontologist will lead a presentation on the field of digging up dinosaur fossils, including his own experiences searching for extinct wonders across the United States. The event will include casts, models and actual fossils that include a Utah raptor foot, an archaeopteryx and a raptor egg. Guests are also invited to don puppets, fuzzy feet and pterodactyl wings as part of the presentation.

• Amazing Flec Juggling Act, 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 30: In the grand finale of this year’s summer reading lineup, guests will get to see a professional juggler steer crystal balls across his hands and limbs as though by magic. He will also do traditional juggling and tell jokes while doing so. Library officials say there might even be opportunities for the kids to learn how to juggle.

“Contact juggling is the mind-bending art of moving a ball around the body, seemingly magnetically,” Ernst-Meyer said. “Flec is, by far, the master of this. Come just us — you’ll be amazed.”   

Following the show, at around 2 p.m., the grand prizes will be drawn for the summer readers. And even if someone doesn’t win a grand prize, they can still pick out a smaller prize from the prize box, so no one goes home empty-handed.

Corrine Stocker, the library director, said that the summer reading program is always a hit.

“Our summer reading events are a fantastic source of fun and free family entertainment,” Stocker said. “And it pays off year-round because it helps children academically. Reading keeps the brain in shape, just as exercise keeps the body in shape.”

For more information, call the Hazel Park District Library at (248) 546-4095.