By Cheryl Petersen Contributing writer
The Daily Star
---- — “My favorite book is ‘Dick and Jane Play School,’” said Madeline Ackerly, as she glued cotton balls onto a cardboard toilet roll.
Madeline, daughter of Ricky Ackerly from Delhi, was participating in one of the many summertime activities held at Delhi’s Cannon Free Library. Her final project on Wednesday: A gnome.
“I used cotton balls for the hair and beard. I drew the mouth with a crayon. Then I glued this red hat on and put sticker eyes on. Mrs. Johnson will add the gnome’s nose, because she uses hot glue, and we are too little to use the hot-glue gun,” explained Madeline in two breaths.
Heather Johnson is the children’s activities director at the Delhi library, and along with directors from other villages and counties, has a summer itinerary designed to keep young children interested in reading.
Madeline was chauffeured to the library by her aunt Amanda Lewis, who also brought Madeline’s cousin, Jaden, who is 3 years old.
“We come to the summer events as often as possible,” said Lewis.
The library events are popular for more reasons than the promotion of reading and the creative activities, according to families of participants.
“It’s a great way for the really young children to get exposed to other kids,” said Susan Lafever. Lafever said she brings her grandchildren every week and also registers each one for the summer reading program. The children list all the books they read during the summer and receive prizes for their accomplishments at an awards party held in August.
The Lafever grandchildren, Bodie Craver and Karlie and Kadence Lafever, brought their cousin Lexi Mahaffey, who was visiting from Ohio.
“This was a fun activity,” said Lexi, comparing the event to the ones she attends back home. “They have singing and the group is interactive, which makes it much more fun.”
The children who can’t read can chime in on songs quickly with: “If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you are happy and you know it, stomp your feet.”
“I will sing songs and the children come up to me afterward and offer advice,” said Johnson with a smile. “A while back, a pre-schooler sang me a new rendition to the song, ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat,’ ending with, ‘if you see an alligator, try not to scream,’ so I taught it to the children and it caught on and stuck. They love it.”
Johnson also reads about gnomes and fairies, selecting books filled with gentle humor and life lessons. The library has Tasneem and Reyhana Raquib assist with the activities. The girls are home-schooled and have many brothers and sisters at home, which, they say, helps bring the patience needed to pull sticky cotton balls off little fingers.
The magnitude of activities accessible to the public at libraries also includes family programs.
“Uncle Rock will be here July 16, at 2 p.m.,” said Stacey Tromblee, director at Delhi library. “Uncle Rock is former stay-at-home dad who now travels and sings for children — the Justin Bieber for 4- through 10-year-olds. We have one family that claims to be Uncle Rock groupies.”