Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

This year the library's Summer Reading Program is branching out - with Melissa Shafer offering more story times and places to read across town.

The program begins June 14 with a special movie night from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Baker Heritage Museum.

Story times officially begin the week of June 17.

There are several options for different ages.

Tuesdays at 10 a.m. are designed for ages 1-5 with the theme "Dig Into Reading: Let's Get Dirty." This will be more focused toward a toddler age group with shorter stories and hands-on, take-home crafts.

The official Summer Reading theme is "Indiana Jones: Adventures in Archaeology." Children can sign up for either Wednesday or Friday - both meet from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Shafer will lead the archaeology program at the Haines Library at 1 p.m. on Thursdays, and the program will also be in Richland and Halfway.

Through the summer, Shafer will also be reading at the YMCA's day camps at 10 a.m. on Mondays.

"I'll bring a basket of books that correlates to their day camp," she said.

Also, each week she will spend several lunchtimes reading at the school district's free lunch program.

Through all these programs, children can keep track of their reading time on tickets, which can be redeemed for prizes at the program-ending carnival on Aug. 15 from 9 a.m. to noon.

"We want to make sure they're part of the Summer Reading Program even if they don't come to the library," Shafer said.

For more information, or to sign up for a session, call the library at 541-523-6419 or stop by the front desk.

Here is the weekly schedule for the "Dig Into Reading" program:

June 18: Gardens

June 25: Big Machines

July 9: Dirt

July 16: Dinosaurs

July 23: Caves

July 30: Treasure

Aug. 6: Animals underground

Aug. 15: Pirate Carnival

Here is the schedule for the "Indiana Jones" program:

June 19, 21: Treasure Hunt to earn your very own Indiana Jones hats

June 26, 28: Mayan Temples craft - bull whip

July 3: Kiddies Parade, 5:30 p.m. No program that week

July 10, 12: Egypt craft - cartouche necklace

July 17, 19: Dinosaur craft - fossils

July 24, 26: Lost cities craft - cave salamanders

July 31, Aug. 2: Lost Treasure craft - jewelry

Aug. 7, 9: Sunken Lands craft - watercolor

Aug. 15: Pirate Carnival

Getting an early start on college

This year the Baker County Public Library will launch a "Ready to Learn" program to help bring the youngest readers to the library.

"It's a pilot program," said Perry Stokes, library director. "This all started because libraries were left out of the early literacy conversations."

The program is for children from birth to age 5.

"We'll be tracking their library usage," Stokes said.

Each time a child in that age range visits the library - for story time, to check out books or just to visit the fish - the child can have his or her "Ready to Learn" card scanned.

When the child turns five, 2 cents per visit will be deposited into their Oregon College Savings Plan.

"We want to provide an incentive to visit the library," Stokes said. "It's a cost-effective way to invest in education."

This movement is part of education reform based on the research that early literacy - before 5 years of age - is critical for helping children prepare for kindergarten and beyond.

The partners in this program are the libraries in Baker City, Pendleton, Hermiston, La Grande, Enterprise, Grant County, EOU's Pierce Library, the Oregon College Savings Plan and the InterMountain Education Service District.

Stokes said they hope to have "Ready to Learn" applications and cards available this summer, but definitely by the start of the school year in September.

- Lisa Britton, for the Baker City Herald