GREENFIELD — Family time and community service will be key elements in a German-themed winter reading program kicking off this weekend at the Hancock County Public Library.
The HCPL hosts a winter reading program for children, teens and adults every year to beat the winter blues with special events and prizes. Throughout February, the New York Times bestseller, “The Book Thief,” will be the focus of the program, with an emphasis on reading together as a family and giving to others.
With prizes for volunteering, attending German-themed programs and spreading the word on social media, participants will be encouraged to do more than just crack open a good book.
“We want to do something besides, ‘just read the book,’” said Barbara Roark, HCPL assistant director. “We’re trying to do different things to get people involved. Not everything has to be reading lots and lots of books.”
Nazi Germany during World War II is the setting of “The Book Thief.” The novel details the story of a girl who learns how to read and “borrows” books to share with others.
HCPL staff chose the book because of its popularity among both teens and adults and because a movie released in theaters late last year could boost interest in the winter reading program.
While adult and teen participants can enter for weekly prizes the traditional way – through reading “The Book Thief” or other WWII-themed books – there are several other ways to be rewarded for participating throughout February.
Roark said people can watch a movie or documentary set during the WWII era; attend a German-themed library event; or donate a new or gently used book to the HCPL. The library will then donate the book to a local school or charity, carrying on the theme of sharing literature with others.
Participants also can be entered for a prize if they perform an hour of community service, or if they spread the hype through Facebook by writing a review or posting pictures of someone reading “The Book Thief.”
Sarah Ryan, teen services librarian, said there’s already plenty of enthusiasm among local teenagers for the winter reading program. Extra copies of “The Book Thief” are available at the HCPL.
“It’s a really great book,” she said. “The movie just came out so I think that will generate a lot of interest in it.”
Special programs at the library throughout February include German folk dancers; two German-themed cooking presentations; and a presentation by Josefa Crowe, who lived in Nazi Germany during WWII.
Adults and teens are also encouraged to sign up with their families for “Get Caught Reading,” the children’s spin on the winter reading program.
Cathy Riley, youth services manager, said children are being encouraged this year to read aloud with their parents, babysitters, grandparents or others. Prizes will be given out to those who read an hour a week as a family.
“When they’re very young, (parents) know they need to read aloud (to their children),” Riley said. “But when they get to school, that kind of drops off. We want to reinforce a family activity where books that are read aloud is still important.”
There will also be German-themed programs, games and crafts for kids. A “Share the Love” event will have children creating crafts to donate to Riley Hospital for Children, again emphasizing charity.
“We really didn’t want to focus heavily on the Holocaust with the younger kids,” Riley said. “So we took the main themes of reading, art, caring for the community and worked them into projects that are age-appropriate.”
To sign up and to learn more details on winter reading, visit hcplibrary.org or find an informational brochure at the library.