There’s not just lions, tigers and bears in store for local children this summer.
There’s bunnies, pigs, giraffes and pretty much any other animal lined up to spark their imagination and get them to read.
Both the Rockmart and Cedartown libraries are once again joining the other branches of the Sara Hightower Regional Library System in presenting its annual summer reading program.
Lasting from June 1 through July 24, the theme of this year’s program is “Tails and Tales,” and animals are taking a central role in promoting reading for school age children.
The Rockmart Library held its kickoff event for the program on Saturday at Seaborn Jones Park in Rockmart. Cedartown is scheduled to host its kickoff event on Tuesday, June 1, from 4-6 p.m. at the library, 245 East Ave.
At Saturday’s event in Rockmart, kids were able to get registered for the program, get a goody bag, play some games to win prizes, and pick out their own “pocket pal” to take with them.
The “pocket pal” is a small, plush animal the library is encouraging kids to read to during the summer. Each one comes complete with an adoption form, and the library will even have a special “veterinary clinic” set up for kids to bring their “pocket pet” to during the summer.
Rockmart Branch Manager Karen Thompson said they have carefully planned out events and activities for kids in the program to help keep crowds limited. The program’s calendar of events includes a combination of digital — or virtual — events and in-person events with registration required.
“We won’t have any of the large performances that we’ve hosted in the past, but there will be lots of digital programs, like story time and craft videos,” Thompson said. “We’ll also have take-and-make craft kits that kids can pick up each week and complete at home.”
One of the in-person events that will take place this summer is a “drive-in” movie, where kids can decorate a box to look like a car and sit in it while watching a movie at the library.
Thompson said the Rockmart Kiwanis Club has partnered with them to provide each child in the program a free age-appropriate book when they register.
“They can then receive more books as prizes throughout the summer so they can build their own library,” Thompson said.
Reading logs are mostly digital, with participants signed up through the Beanstack app. Manual reading logs are available. Kids can also earn badges for completing the various activities.
Kids were able to get their first book marked off Saturday by going along a story walk on the Silver Comet Trail next to the park. The book “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” was separated into signposts along a section of the trail and kids were encouraged to read as they walked along.