GREENFIELD — Hancock County Public Library has plenty of Asian flair this month, with a new winter reading program that will bring the sights, sounds and even tastes of Chinese culture to the community.
While most celebrated the New Year Jan. 1, the most festive Chinese holiday – the Chinese New Year – is this Sunday. Organizers of the “Get Fired Up for Reading” program thought that would be a good theme to get kids, teens and adults interested in picking up a book during one of the coldest months of the year.
“We have a really good attendance with cultural events,” said Jackie Osting, adult programmer for the library. “A lot of people here don’t go to Indianapolis, and they don’t get that kind of entertainment or culture.”
The library will kick off its winter reading program this week. The first event is a children’s Chinese New Year party today at the Sugar Creek branch. Programs at the main branch start Thursday with the performing arts group NewGen.
The library has had winter-themed reading programs for years, but they were always held in January. Osting said because people still seemed tied up following the busy holiday season in January, this is the first year the winter reading program will be held in February.
Like the popular summer reading program, the winter reading festivities encourage patrons of all ages to read books for the chance at prizes. The top prize this year is a Kindle Fire.
But Osting said the winter program us usually more low-key and less attended than summer programs, because children are in school and parents are busy transporting students from event to event.
So far, about 60 children have signed up – as evidenced by a red Chinese dragon hanging in the children’s room each child’s name on it. About 15 teens have signed up for the program, along with 29 adults; sign-ups are ongoing.
Even though the winter reading program is more laid back, plenty of activities are lined up. Programs range from traditional Chinese dancing to a cooking class to crafts. A colorful display case in the lobby of the library is a collection of art from Osting’s daughter’s trip to China.
NewGen, a performing arts group of Chinese-American teens, will perform at 7 p.m. Thursday. Osting said because the group requires room for costume changes and performance, seating is limited and already full.
A class on Chinese New Year foods and Chinese knotting is also already full, as both classes require a small group for teaching.
Still, two performances of “Clang!” percussion group will be open for all ages Feb. 16. Cathy Riley, youth services manager, said the program has been a hit in the past.
“Three musicians bring in a wide variety of percussion instruments, and they call the kids up to jam with them,” Riley said.
The children’s department has already held a bookmark design contest for the winter reading program, and Riley said she’s encouraging students to read one book a week to be eligible for prizes.
Events for teens include a Chinese New Year Party and a class on Chinese writing. Teens at the Chinese New Year Party will play games, make origami projects and find their birthday on the Chinese Zodiac. (This year, by the way, is the year of the snake.)
While the reason for summer reading programs is obvious – keeping kids interested in books while they’re out of school – Riley said the winter reading program helps children realize that reading is not just for school work, but also is fun.
“It’s just a chance to read anything they’d like,” she said.
For others, Riley added, the winter reading program is a time to encourage families to read together at home.
“We’re trying to get parents to set the example and sign up,” she said.