Ready, set, read!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 7, 2003

The Albert Lea Public Library wants kids to keep their reading skills sharp this summer.

&uot;Al’s Summer Vacation&uot; is the theme for this year’s summer reading program. Al, a big, green stuffed alligator, is the children’s library mascot, and he’ll be offering kids incentives to keep reading, said Staci Waltman, children’s librarian.

Kids will be eligible for prizes for reading between June 9 and July 25 this summer. After the initial registration, kids who fill out one reading ticket with 300 minutes of reading time logged are eligible for a jungle prize. A second ticket earns a beach ball. And a third earns an &uot;I read 900 minutes this summer&uot; button and a $5 gift certificate from The Constant Reader.

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Waltman said she likes the idea that kids are encouraged to read for a certain amount of time each day, rather than striving for a large number of books. That way, they can read things they like the new Harry Potter book coming out this summer.

&uot;I think kids have more freedom to read what they want in the summer,&uot; she said. &uot;If they keep reading, they become better readers.&uot;

And kids who can’t yet read can participate in the program if a parent reads to them for at least 20 minutes a day.

Travel kits are also available from the library for kids going on vacation. The kits contain books, cassettes, audio books, music CDs, activity sheets and small trinkets. Materials will be checked out for their normal circulation period unless a longer period is requested. People are asked to allow library staff at least one week to prepare the kits, and travel kit forms are available at the front desk in the children’s room.

The library staff has also planned a number of other activities on Wednesdays this summer:

– June 11 – Jungle Carnival. Come and catch jungle fever.

– June 18 – Harry Potter Party. Dress up as your favorite character.

– June 25 – Color My World. Bring something light to tie dye.

– July 2 – Happy Independence Day. Show your pride for the red, white and blue.

– July 9 – Backwards Party. Wear your clothes backwards.

– July 16 – Talent Show. Show off your talents. Sign up by June 20.

– July 23 – Luau. Wear your favorite Hawaiian outfit.

Events will be coordinated by library staffers Terri Tinman and Patty Greibrok.

Storytimes continue at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, 2 p.m. on Tuesdays is known as &uot;Terrific Tuesdays&uot; for those age kindergarten and older. Al, the library’s mascot (a big green stuffed alligator), will also be taking part in the Albert Lea July 3 parade along with many of the kids who have signed up to be library volunteers this summer. Waltman said there over 70 kids who have offered to help out.

&uot;They’ll be wearing T-shirts, so it will be easy to spot a helper in the library,&uot; Waltman said.

People can also stop at the library’s booth at the Freeborn County Fair.

Summer library hours are from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, check out the library’s Web site at