Parker County Today April 2018 - Page 46

our community: WEATHERFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY Summer Reading Club and Friends of the Library bring reading to the community  By PAULA NADZIEJKA I 44 f you can’t imagine the Weatherford Public Library without the Friends of the Library, you’re right! There wouldn’t be one without the other in Weatherford. Our library was born in 1959 as a children’s library, brought to life by donations and nurtured along by volunteer members of the City Council Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). Soon the PTA could no longer operate the nascent library and the Friends of the Library was formed to keep the library open. The Friends of the Library provided that vital service until the children’s library was adopted by the City of Weatherford in 1968. Our library has continued to grow (and is growing now perhaps faster than ever) and the Friends of the Library have continued their work to support and promote the library for nearly 50 years. And though their contributions are too many to list, it’s no surprise that the heart of their work today is still focused on meeting the needs of Parker County’s young readers. The Friends of the Library began providing financial support to the summer reading program in 1989, thanks to a generous gift made by Caroline Dickerson in honor of her late husband. Over the years, the Friends took on an ever-increasing role in paying for the program and have funded it completely for several years now.  The Summer Reading Challenge has been a staple of fun and learning in Weatherford for decades. The days of each child logging their reading hours at home and then recording them on a 3 X 5 notecard at the library have given way to an access database, but the essence of the program remains: read more books, get more prizes. The library awards prizes at vari- ous numbers of reading hours, and even throws an ice cream social for big readers at each summer’s end. Summer Reading Challenge gives so much more to our kids than an incentive to read. It has become a summer-long program of educational and enrichment activities for chil- dren aged 0 to 18. The Weatherford Public Library offers a program every single day of the summer. Over the decades, the children of Parker County have been treated to a wondrous variety of performances, demonstrations and activities. We’ve honored our western heritage with singing cowboys and rope tricks, taught love of fitness with jump rope teams and dance parties, explored the natural world with live wild animals, nurtured the love of science with Discovery Station, and delighted countless youngsters with magic shows, puppet theaters, and storytelling. Perhaps one of the best features of the entire program can be summed up in one simple word: free. The value to families to have something enriching, inclusive, and safe for their children to do with no price tag is tremendous. The Summer Reading Challenge, with its emphasis on literacy and educational events, is an invaluable tool in the fight against what educators call the summer slide. Studies have