“Australian Outback” event kicks off children’s summer reading program

Jada Stafford finds a comfortable spot to read during the “Australian Outback Adventure” kickoff to the “One World, Many Stories,” Children’s Summer Reading program at the Blount County Public Library.

Photo by Rachel Stafford

Jada Stafford finds a comfortable spot to read during the “Australian Outback Adventure” kickoff to the “One World, Many Stories,” Children’s Summer Reading program at the Blount County Public Library.

Children who turned up at the Blount County Public Library did more than reading – they were Crocodile wrestling and kangaroo boxing.

It was all part of the kick off to the library’s “One World, Many Stories” Children’s Summer Reading Program, The theme for the kick off was, “Australian Outback Adventure,” and more than 350 people showed up. “It was a good turnout and we had over 200 kids sign up for reading club that first day,” Children’s librarian Jean Closz said. “Right now we have 750 kids signed up. We had a really good time that day.”

“It was a really fun program. We had areas portioned off and in one area we had inflatable bopper gloves and kids could do kangaroo boxing and in another area we had a 6-foot-long stuffed crocodile the kids wrestled and there also was face painting from Faces Gone Wild. They do real fancy stuff,” Closz said. “There were pop-out tunnels and huts and things like that for little ones and we had tunnels tied together to make wombat tunnels, so we had different things going on in different areas of the Children’s Room and all through the gallery.”

Closz said there were crafts on tables in the Children’s Room. “Everyone could move around to different things they wanted to do and that worked well because we weren’t on top of each other,” she said. “It seemed to go really well.”

Seona McDowell from North Carolina entertained the audience. McDowell has lived all over the world and for a part of that time, she was in New Zealand. She did a program about Australia and told about animals there and had stuffed animals to illustrate the different animals in New Zealand, Closz said. “She had a lot of instruments, she was playing her guitar and had people singing and dancing and participating with her as she was talking about Australian folk lore.”

Closz said all the programs on Saturday this summer have been really well attended. “Last year we averaged about 50 people at the Saturday programs and this year we’ve been averaging 100. It is going well,” she said.

Throughout the month of July, parents can register children, birth through elementary ages, for the summer reading program. Children can complete Summer Reading Club game boards or Reading Logs to win prizes.

Upcoming activities for the children’s reading program include:

Friday, July 15 - Cardboard Boat Race: Cruise the World with Books,” at John Sevier Pool, 1998 Sequoyah Ave., Maryville. 6 to 6:45 p.m., boat check in and 7 p.m., cardboard boat race.

Saturday, July 16, 11 a.m., “Musical Story Hour with Liz Stewart” in the Children’s Reading Pond of the Children’s Library.

Week of July 17-23: “European Week with Folktales”

Saturday, July 23, 11 a.m., “Mr. Bond, Science Guy,” with cool experiments from around the globe in the Sharon Lawson Room.

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