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Children will explore the night with Willmar, Minn., summer reading program

WILLMAR -- Children will explore the wonders of the night as they "Dream Big - Read" with the annual children's summer reading program at Willmar Public Library.

This year's theme Dream Big - READ will include lessons about stargazing, space exploration and nocturnal animals, as well as activities about dreams and wishes.

Kathy Torkelson, children's librarian at Willmar Public Library, is excited about the theme.

"There's a lot of areas you can go into including dreams, space ... I think that's great," she said.

The goals of the summer reading program are to motivate children to continue reading throughout the summer, develop positive attitudes about reading, encourage regular use of the library and attract new users to the library, Torkleson said.

The program is for children in preschool through fifth grade.

Children decide what books they want to read and win prizes for completing the books. For every 10 books a child reads, he or she will receive a prize. After reading 30 books, the child has completed the program.

"We'd like to have at least 75 percent complete the program," Torkelson said.

She hopes to have 10 percent more children registered than last year, which shouldn't be a problem since people are already asking to sign up, she said.

Registration for the program is free and begins today.

Program events will kick off with "Stargazing: Surveying the Night Sky" at 7 p.m. Thursday at the library. Patrick Thibault, amateur astronomer and owner of Observation Studio photos by Tee Bo, will give a 45-minute presentation about objects in the night sky.

More events will take place throughout the summer including a Father's Day story hour June 13, an evening pajama story time July 24 and a five-week session exploring outer-space with 4-H space explorers beginning July 9.

Kandiyohi Dairy Princesses will join participants for a special event at 6:30 p.m. June 12, when they will be speaking and serving ice cream.

Willmar Fests Ambassadors will also make an appearance at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. June 21 with A Tale as Old as Time. Participants are encouraged to dress up as princes and princesses and enjoy story time and a craft with the queen and princesses. Registration for this event is required

All events will incorporate the theme Dream Big - READ.

A similar theme, Own the Night, will be used for the teen summer reading program, which is intended for anyone entering sixth through 12th grade.

"We'll give them a punch card, and when they finish a book, they can come get their card punched," said Ryan McCormick, head librarian at Willmar Public Library.

Once a participant completes eight library books, he will receive a free book from the library. Participants will also be entered into a weekly raffle each time they finish a book.

Advance registration is not required for the teen summer program. "Just drop in and come join us," McCormick said.

Events for the teen summer reading program will also be scheduled throughout the summer including a visit from a paranormal book author.

For more information about the summer reading programs, contact Kathy Torkleson at 320-235-3162 or visit the web page linked to this story.