Pirates and parrots and books, oh my!


    It’s hard to imagine more than 100 young children sitting quietly in one room, at least without the threat of missing recess. But that was the case most Wednesday afternoons this summer when the Malibu Library’s Summer Reading Program presented its special programs.

    The attention of local kids was captured by Pirate Mark Beatty and his macaws, Salsa and Maxwell, who told tales of life at sea. A puppet show, complete with 7-foot-tall dragon, took kids on a magical Arthurian adventure. Alice In Wonderland made an appearance along with other storytellers of classic tales. There were also some more hands-on experiences as kids held live reptiles and amphibians or carefully folded paper into origami swans that had movable wings.

    “We generally had about 125 people for each program,” says Children’s Librarian Michele Mednick. “That was very good attendance. We also got very good feedback from the parents.”

    “The kids love the programs,” says Teresa Carrigan, mother of three. “And it was entertaining for me as well as the children.”

    Six-year-old Aimee especially liked the reptile show. “I got to hold a big snake. It felt like tree bark.”

    “I like Origami lessons because I learned something,” says Cody, 6. “And I liked Pirates and Parrots because the parrots can talk.”

    “I like Salsa the bird,” says Megan, 6. “He picked up the dishes. He could do the dishes for my mom.”

    Mednick’s summer reading program also featured two games. One, called “Library Kids at Bat,” was sponsored by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the L.A. County Public Library. For every 20 minutes of reading time (including being read to), kids were given a paper baseball. For every 10 baseballs they collected, they advanced one base and got a prize. Those participating in the baseball game are eligible for a drawing to win two tickets to a Dodger game. “We’re giving out 50 pairs of Dodger tickets,” Mednick says.

    The other game, called “Library Kids Top to Bottom,” awarded prizes for every five books read. Each child could receive a maximum of six prizes. Mednick says more than 250 children participated in some part of the summer program. “We got more than 50 people who finished up the baseball game and about 70 people who have photos on the wall.”

    Although the games are over, kids can still can get prizes for reading and even have their photo placed on the wall in the children’s section of the library. “It’s incentive to get the kids through the game,” Mednick says. “Kids like to see their picture on the wall. It’s also a memento. They get to take their picture home at the end of the summer.”

    Kids can also earn prizes for turning in book reports. “They could write or they could color it or they could do it orally,” Mednick says. “Every book report they do they get a prize for.” The book reports are also displayed on the wall.

    Mednick says the success of the summer program will enable her to try other creative programs and possibly a book club during the school year. “It’s inspired me to do other creative things that will entice kids to read,” she says.

    Mednick says programs for kids ages 2 and up are being planned for fall. “Each month will be different. We’ll have a back-to-school program and a Halloween program and a holiday program in December.

    “I basically like variety,” Mednick added. “I’m looking for different kinds of shows.”