The Great Bend Public Library once again proved librarians know how to party, especially when the theme is reading. Saturday morning, families with young children arrived mid-morning to celebrate the end of another successful USD 428 Reading Initiative with a Barnyard Bash fit for the Little Red Hen herself. Elementary schools sent representatives to man booths in the library basement where youngsters visited to take part in games, crafts, and hands-on demonstrations revolving around the themes of the book, “The Little Red Hen.”
There was painting with feathers, handprint chicken paintings, a chance to make a chicken squawker out of a paper cup, all courtesy of USD 428 elementary schools. The Central Kansas Christian Academy shared a card-based memory game, and take-home instructions to make a quick and easy loaf of bread courtesy of Cottonwood Extension. Helping Hands Preschool brought activity centers filled with grains for children to scoop, spoon and pour into containers. And Luna the service dog was on hand, eager to listen as children shared stories from a basket filled with barnyard themed books.
On the main floor, the Guthrie family set up a portable chicken yard so visitors could pause and visit with an assortment of several varieties of chickens close up. Kan-Equip brought a large and a small tractor, set up at the northeast corner of the parking lot, and librarians invited families to stop for the photo-op before heading for home.
Probably the most fun for all was the concert provided by Jammin’ Randy in the Children’s library Saturday morning. He had kids on their feet, dancing and pretending to be animals, smiles on their faces and excitement in the air.
Children’s librarian Amy Mahill said Randy has visited in the past, and is always a popular draw. When the library joined forces with the school district for the reading initiative, the award-winning popular children’s music artist from Hays was a natural addition, she said.
The USD 428 Reading Initiative has evolved since the 2015 introduction of the “One District, One Book” program that encouraged all grades in the district to read and discuss the same book at the beginning of the school year. Finding a book with that sort of universal appeal on a yearly basis proved difficult, so now the district has opted to target the focus of the initiative on a tighter grade range each year. “The Little Red Hen” book was read by all students in grades K-2 this year. Next year, a book will be chosen for grades 3-6.