The Emporia Public Library will blast off into a summer full of literacy from 2:30 - 4 p.m. Friday at the library at 110 E. Sixth Ave.

The summer reading program is for everyone, with programming for everybody from adults to young children. The theme this year is “A Universe of Stories.” The theme, chosen by the collaborative summer library program, honors the Apollo moon landing, which took place July 20, 1969.

The usual library activities such as the worm races and the family pool party will take place this summer as well, but there are special programs on the roster.

The summer’s activities will celebrate outer space, as will Friday’s blast off party.

Children’s Services Coordinator Lori Heller said the event would include “astronaut training” featuring physical challenges for participants, a craft and a chance to build their own space colony in the four-sided display case in the atrium.

“It’s all about space and STEM activities this summer,” she said.

The children’s portion of the program hopes to get young participants to read (or be read aloud to) at least 800 minutes this summer, Heller said.

“It really helps to retain their reading skills over the summer months,” she said. “I know the teachers feel it’s really important that they read over the summer so they come back to school ready — ready to learn.”

The program encourages familiarization with and use of the public library while helping young children and families socialize with their peers.

Library Director Robin Newell said the library would add three more children’s activities to the roster this year, including a magic show May 31 at the Little Theater and activities at the Emporia State University planetarium.

There is different programing for teens and tweens than for young children. Young Adult Librarian Tiffany Fay is in charge of this aspect of the summer reading program.

She said the reading goal for the summer was up to participants. Teen participants are asked to fill out a Bingo card. Participants who black out their card can receive a prize such as a book series or a set of virtual reality goggles.

“Just come down to the library,” Newell said. “We’re here to work with you and really get you interested in reading and stopping the summer slide — you know, kids get away from books for a while and lose those habits. We really want to keep kids reading through the summer so they’ll be ready to start school again in August.”

There will be STEM activities for these age groups as well, including slime experiments, the chance to build their own rockets, and Mad Science Hour experiments such as crater investigations and recreating the experiment that led to the discovery of infrared light.

Participants could have a chance to work with magnetic slime, according to Fay.

“It’s going to be very experimental, so they can add whatever ingredients they want to their basic slime recipe and, about the first 30 people that come to each event will be able to make magnetic slime,” Fay said.

There will be two such slime events, one in June and the other in July.

According to Fay, children who make magnetic slime will receive neodymium magnets — a type of powerful rare earth magnet — to go with it. According to Fay, these types of magnets are necessary to make the slime work.

“If kids wanted to do this with a magnet off of their refrigerator, the slime would just swallow it,” she said. “You wouldn’t be able to control it or move it in any sort of direction.”

Fay looks forward to the slime and believes children and parents will as well.

She said she was excited for the summer’s activities.

“I’m a huge space nerd, so I’m actually excited for the entire summer,” Fay said. “This is right up my alley.”

Newell spoke about the adult program, which this year features a community-wide read. This summer, it will be “one book, one Emporia” for those who choose to take part. That one book is “October Sky” by Homer Hickam.

“We finally feel like we have the right book for the community,” Newell said.

The movie adaptation will be shown free of charge at the Granada Theatre at 6 p.m. June 25, courtesy of the library.

For more information, see and check out the library’s newsletter and summer calendar.

Some activities will require registration, according to Newell, so she encourages people to check out the calendar and register if needed for any activity in which they want to take part.

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