Article: Dion Mindykowski
Illustration: David Diaz, Courtesy of the American Library Association

Nimble-fingered magicians levitate objects. As many hands beat loudly upon drums, an epic rhythm fills the air. Such creatures as bats, snakes, armadillos, and anteaters, normally hidden from view by caves, rocks, dense foliage, and the dark of night, find themselves invited inside as friends. These are not scenes from the latest fantasy blockbuster being filmed in Michigan; they are events taking place as part of the 2009 Summer Reading Programs at libraries in Bay, Midland, and Saginaw counties.

The Summer Reading Programs started on June 8, with a full lineup of performers, as well as arts & crafts, classes, movie showings, and more. Children, teens, and adults who complete and submit reading records become eligible for prizes.  Depending on the library and participant age, these prizes may include coupons for local businesses, free books, and chances at such larger prizes as gift certificates and even iPods. The deadline to pick up a reading report for the Saginaw Public Libraries has passed, but participants have until Saturday, July 25 to return reports that have been completed. The deadline for Bay County Library System is Friday, July 31, and patrons of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library have until Saturday, August 15.

Even though the Summer Reading Programs for this year are soon coming to an end, there are still plenty of events left to attend. For young readers and their families there are magic shows scheduled featuring Baffling Bill and Jeff Wawrzaszek.  Children who like to dance and sing will enjoy musical acts such as Suzanne and Jim; Drumminity: Hands on Drum Circle; Gratitude Steel Band; and Harpbeat!: Interactive Music, Games and Stories.  For young scientists and animal lovers there are several chances to interact with reptiles and mammals at Science Alive, Classroom Critters, and Organization for Bat Conservation.

Teens will also have a chance to experience live animal programs with Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum's Drawing from Nature: Live Reptiles as Models; and additional sessions of Science Alive and Organization for Bat Conservation geared toward grades 6 through 12.  Puzzles, music, and comic books are also part of what the libraries have in store for teens this summer. Scheer Genius: Mind Bending Puzzles; Kevin Collins: Interactive African Drum & Dance Performance; and Paul Sizer: Step-by-Step Instructions for Making a Minicomic will be offered, along with movies, board games, and Nintendo Wii competitions.

While there are no magicians or animal exhibits scheduled specifically for adults, there are movie showings, a book discussion, and computer classes available for those 18 and older. The movies showing at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library take place on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. and include The Pursuit of Happiness, Catch Me If You Can, and October Sky.  A discussion of Carol Goodman's novel The Drowning Tree will take place at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library on Wednesday, July 22 at 2 p.m.  The computer classes scheduled at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library include Internet use, Microsoft Windows, Etsy, digital photo editing and YouTube. The Bay County Library System is also offering computer classes covering digital photo editing, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Twitter.

If bats, lizards, magicians, and Twitter are not for you, just wait a week or so. Events take place at these libraries all year long and cater to a variety of interests.  A complete schedule of remaining Summer Reading Program events, as well as information about reading records, event signup procedures, hours, locations, future programs, and more can be found at the websites for the Bay County Library System (, the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library ( and the Saginaw Public Libraries (

© Dion Mindykowski, 2009