GREENFIELD — With the cold winter weather outside, library officials are touting the comfort of nestling into a cozy nook with a good book.
The Hancock County Public Library this week kicked off its winter reading program, themed Mid-Winter Mash Up this year, to encourage reading during the winter. The program runs through the end of the month.
And library officials are excited about everything planned.
“We have a whole bunch of things happening associated with the program,” assistant library director Barbara Roark said.
The Mid-Winter Mash Up was designed to encourage reading by helping patrons mix and match all kinds of different items, including books, movies and foods that might not normally go together.
The programs reflect those pairings.
“An example would be seashells and dinosaurs, or Star Wars and Dr. Seuss,” Roark said.
Because the winter reading program is short, just 28 days, library officials have organized the event to encourage families to read together.
One of the guidelines is for families with young children to read aloud in a group for a total of four hours during the program. A prize for each hour’s worth of reading is waiting for families who meet the goal.
“We want families to go ahead and do things together,” Roark said. “Last year, we had over 100 families participate so we’re hoping to pass that this year.”
Sugar Creek Library teen coordinator Deborah Reynolds said the New Palestine branch is offering the same programming as the library’s central location in Greenfield.
“We do like to do some of our own events because we have a different group of people that come in, but with our summer and winter reading, we try to keep it as uniform as possible,” Reynolds said.
The summer and winter reading programs are two of the library’s biggest events aimed at getting patrons into the facility.
However, they’re very different in what organizers try to accomplish.
“In summer reading, kids are all out of school, so we’re really trying to keep them reading over the summer so they don’t have that summer slide,” Reynolds said. “But in the winter reading, our focus is getting families to read together aloud.”
She said that helps families encourage reading all year-round.
Laura Clark of Greenfield is a mother of four with children ranging in age from 1 to 11. She’s one library patron who strongly encourages families to get involved in the program.
While her children vary in age, the winter reading initiative brings them all together, she said.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing we can do as a family,” Clark said. “We can go over there together, and with the kids at various ages, each one of them can get involved and encourage each other.”
Clark likes the fact the program is free and offers rewards for reading, which makes learning fun.
“It just gives the kids a goal to work for,” Clark said.
Morgan Ferguson of Greenfield is the mother of one son. She’s in favor of the winter reading program as well and has taken part for many years.
“We love it,” Ferguson said. “It offers us a free opportunity for children to be exposed to reading, crafts and educational programs.”
She said each year, library officials somehow manage to add on to the previous year’s program to make it new and different.
“They offer multiple sessions at convenient times, and the staff goes above and beyond in their goals to make connections and promote literacy,” Ferguson said.
In addition to working with families who have young children, Roark said library officials will also serve up events for teens and adults during the monthlong program.
“A teen could participate in the family read-out-loud segment, but teens mostly like to read on their own,” Roark said. “The teen and adult program is structured more the way our summer reading program is.”
Adults and teens will receive an entry slip for each book they read. They can win surprises for their work as well, Roark said.
The library will offer more appropriate gifts to adults who take part in the program with rewards to local restaurants, movie theaters and more.
The bottom line, Roark said, is to get families of all ages interested in their local library.
“You’re never too young or too old to read,” she said. “You can always learn something.”
For more information about signing up for the winter reading program, visit the library in person or online at hcplibrary.org.
The winter reading club runs through the end of the month at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road. Here’s a look at some of the special programs coming up to celebrate:
Winter Hawaiian Luau: 4-5 p.m. today, grades K-5
INDYPROV comedy improvisation troupe: 10-11 a.m. Saturday, all ages welcome
Play with your Food: 4-5 p.m. Feb. 10, grades K-5
Campfire Story Time: 10-10:30 a.m., Feb. 13, preschool
You’re the Artist: 4-5 p.m. Feb. 18, grades K-5
Dr. Seuss Meets Star Wars, 4-5 p.m. Feb. 27, grades K-5
80’s Punk Hoedown: 6-8 p.m. Tuesday
Bad Movie (Sharktopus) + Texting Quips: 4-6 p.m. Thursday
Teen Library Camp-In: 1-5 p.m. Feb 14
Teen Variety Show: 5-8 p.m. Feb. 17
Teen Story Time: 4-6 p.m. Feb. 23
Teen Movie Workshop: 4-6 p.m. Feb. 25
Unexpected But Amazing Food Mash-ups with Your Gourmet Girlfriends: 7-8 p.m. Wednesday
The Movie Mash-up: Wild Literary Adaptations on Film: 7-8:15 p.m. Feb. 11
Movie Mash-up: O Brother Where Art Thou, 7-8:45 p.m., Feb. 18
Genealogy Interest Group (GIG)-Kentucky Family Research: 7-8 p.m. Feb. 18
Slavery and the Rise of American Music: 7-8 p.m. Feb. 25