Library Mystery Program, ‘Get A Clue,’ Entertains While Teaching Children
By TAYLOR GRIFFIN
A multitude of little voices chirping and chortling from too much excitement echo in the auditorium as Valerie Oliver takes the stage. The giggling and chatting comes to a silence as she pulls out a familiar toy that most of them have seen before: a yoyo.
The kids are impressed, but when she begins to work her magic with this simple toy, they are completely in awe.
As peppy music jams out of the speaker, she swings it around her head, twists the strings into images, performing trick after trick, and catching it back into her hand as quickly as she let it out, all with effortless finesse. Taking a bow, her captivated audience roars into applause, sending her into her next act.
This summer, a lot more than just books can be found at the Tyler Public Library.
As a way of keeping kids actively learning after the school year, the Tyler Public Library is helping children "get a clue" about reading through several engaging activities throughout the whole summer season.
This year's theme "Get a Clue... at the Library!" gives kids the opportunity to use their best sleuthing skills while learning something new.
"It's pure entertainment, and we pair it with going back to books," said Evelyn McLane, Tyler Public Library program associate.
The point of the programs during the summer is to foster education and a lifelong love of reading. Mrs. McLane said the programs help to retain skills the children have already learned, advance them in their learning ability, and keep their brains active, even after the school year ends.
"Imagination is just another muscle," she said. "If we don't work it, they're not as capable adults as others."
Among the events the library has to offer this summer include mystery-themed movie matinees for school-age kids on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. Preschool-age children can enjoy "Fables and Films," a story time along with a short film, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10:30 am.
The Teens and Tweens program on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. has many activities and events for teenagers, including a poetry slam and a "zombie stomp" at the end of the summer. On Fab Fridays, guest entertainers will excite audiences of any age at 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Ms. Oliver, whose interest in yoyos began at a very young age, believes that events like hers at the library gives kids something to do besides sit at the computer during the summer. Her techniques and teaching style showed the kids the benefits of practice and finding something they love.
"Some kids aren't athletic, but they find something like this that they're good at," she said. "You can educate kids without them even realizing it."
Adults can also join the fun this summer with classic mystery movies like "Rear Window" and "Deathtrap" playing Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m., all free admission.
During the week of August 6 through 10, kid-friendly family movies will be shown all day with free admission.
To encourage them to keep reading during the summer, kids of any age can pick up a reading time log. They can turn in a completed log with at least 20 hours of reading time to the library information desk for a free book and coupon book from Great American Cookie Company.
"It's something about having your own books that makes them special," said Mrs. McLane. "It's all about lifelong learning and reading."
The Tyler Public Library hosts these summer festivities to get kids into the library and give them something to do during their break without spending money, said McLane.
"Kids have so much time in the summer and so much stuff they can do. It doesn't have to cost anything," she said. "We do it specifically so they have that other choice and not have to pay for something fun to do."
Heather Mebane, of Tyler, brought her two little boys out to see the yoyo performance. Mrs. Mebane said she as well as her boys always enjoy what the library has to offer and come frequently during the year.
"It's a good idea in the heat of the day," she said. "It's a fun, free thing to do, especially in the summer time."