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Hazel Park library announces virtual summer reading program

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 4, 2020

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HAZEL PARK — Dragons, fairies and other fantastical creatures are the stars of this year’s summer reading program through the Hazel Park Memorial District Library, titled “Imagine Your Story.” But due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s program will be held virtually.

For the first time, the library will conduct its summer reading program over the internet through a program called READsquared. Details on how to sign up will be posted at the library’s website, http://hazel-park.lib.mi.us. There will also be a variety of live events that can be enjoyed together virtually with other patrons via the free split-screen video-conferencing app, Zoom. To acquire the link that takes you to the event through the app, email the library at hazelparklibrarySRP@gmail.com.

Sign-up for the program begins June 15 and ends Aug. 10. During that time, recording your reading progress through READsquared can earn you badges and prizes that will be awarded at the library later in the fall.

“This program will allow patrons to record their reading hours online, earn badges, play games and do challenges,” said librarian Amy Beem. “For children, each minute read counts as one point. Normally, there is a bingo card, but this year, it will be missions or challenges to earn extra points. And as a super-fun bonus, every 500 points collectively earned by all patrons will win a crazy, silly video by your awesome library staff.”

Videos may include the library staff engaging in a water-gun fight, doing the chicken dance, singing songs while in costume, eating a spoonful of hot sauce, dumping ice water on their heads — the possibilities are as varied as they are absurd. But to see them, patrons will need to work together and earn points.

READsquared tracks everyone’s levels and notifies the library staff when a prize is earned. Weekly prizes will still be drawn for the kids, and the grand prizes at the end of the program will be picked up curbside.

There are also live events on Fun Fridays, Terrific Tuesdays and Family Fun Nights (Wednesday) that will be conducted over Zoom. The kickoff program is June 16, titled “Bubblefest.” Here, patrons can go outside and blow bubbles, broadcasting via Zoom.

“We may not be able to be together, but we can all celebrate at the same time,” Beem said

Iza Trapani will lead a live Zoom program at 1 p.m. June 23, where she will read and sing her latest book, “Vole and Troll,” and then discuss her creative process, showing them art from the book and answering any questions they may have.

Other Zoom virtual programs include a pet show and tell (6:30-7:30 p.m. July 1, ), a cooking class (1-2 p.m., July 14, and 6:30-7:30 p.m., July 15) and science experiments (1-2 p.m., July 7). Others involve chalk art outside or playing Pokemon Go together. For more details on the full lineup, visit http://hazel-park.lib.mi.us.

“Many libraries around the U.S. are also switching to virtual programming. This is a huge learning curve for all of us,” Beem said. “This pandemic has caused us to reevaluate how we do programming and how to connect with our patrons. Not all patrons can come to the library (even in normal times), so maybe now virtual programming could be a possible added program in the future.”

Corrine Stocker, the library director, said the summer reading program is a cherished tradition that also serves a vital role in the community.

“Our online summer reading program will encourage students to read by offering fun challenges and incentives. More importantly, it will allow them to continue to learn as they read and exercise their brains,” Stocker said. “Reading enhances a student’s ability to comprehend information and literally makes them more intelligent.”

For more information, call the Hazel Park Memorial District Library at (248) 546-4095 or visit http://hazel-park.lib.mi.us. The library, located at 123 E. Nine Mile Road, is closed until June 15.

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