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Let your imagination soar at the public library

Summer in the mountains of northeast Tennessee brings to mind images of slow, lazy days with balmy breezes, the hammock slightly swaying under a shade tree while pitchers of ice-cold homemade lemonade with a sprig of mint are setting on a nearby table. It's a time of catching lightening bugs and lying in the backyard on a large blanket, waiting for the nighttime sky to light up with stars.
While blissful, summertime can also become a challenge for parents as they seek activities to keep their children occupied, happy and content without throwing the household budget out the window. For those who have a love of reading, both young and old and somewhere in between, hours can fly by if a good book grabs the reader's attention, instantly transporting them to another time and place.
For the past six years, Laura Hayworth has led the summer reading program at Johnson County Library. This past Friday marked the first day of the program that is designed for children from kindergarten through fourth grade. Younger children are welcome with parents, and older children are invited to come and offer their help with the many crafts, puppet plays, snacks, games and story time.
This year the theme is One World, Many Stories. As the children assembled at the beginning of the program, they were greeted by Hayworth with a “hello” in Chinese. Hayworth, who lived in China for several years, had items from her time in China on display. The children learned how to cook rice in a traditional Chinese rice cooker and the art of eating with chopsticks. Each week, the students will visit another country, closing with a Mexican fiesta on July 15th. If you are interested in the program, contact the library for more information.
Johnson County Library is packed with plenty of books that cater to the many interests of readers of all ages. The shelves are full of picture books and stories that are written specifically for younger children and new readers. “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst is a classic book for children in kindergarten through third grade, complete with beautiful illustrations. Who can forget the famous Amelia Bedalia series by Peggy Parrish? An “I can read” version is now available for young readers. Young readers ages four through eight thoroughly enjoy the Junie B. Jones, written by Barbara Park.
Readers that are between nine and twelve may enjoy “Moon over Manifest” by Clare Vanderpool. Her book was the winner of the coveted 2011 Newbery Medal. Abilene Tucker's father puts her on a train headed for Manifest, Kansas. Her father has a summer job working with the railroad, and he entrusts her care to an old friend. Abilene decides this summer might provide a good opportunity to discover a little bit about her father and his family, but she encounters a lot more than she expected. “Old Yeller” by Fred Gipson is a classic and touching story about a boy and an ugly, scraggly dog that makes his way into the heart of Travis and his family. This story will pull at the reader's heartstrings regardless of their age. Another favorite for this age group is “Holes” by Louis Sachar. Stanley Yelnats is in trouble and is sent to a camp for stealing shoes from a homeless shelter. This is not your ordinary camp; it is a boys' detention center. Each day, the warden has the boys dig holes, holes that are five feet wide and five feet deep. Stanley soon becomes suspicious that the warden has ulterior motives and is actually searching for something, but what is that something?
Readers 12 and up will enjoy “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt. After members of the Tuck family drink from a magic spring, they find that they live forever. When a ten-year old girl discovers their secret, the Tucks try to explain that living for eternity just may not be as wonderful as it seems. “The Orange Houses” by Paul Griffin is the story of a hearing-impaired teenage girl who doesn't seem to have many friends. That changes when she meets Jimmi and Fatima. The book explores current issues pertaining to illegal immigration, homeless veterans and bullying. Griffin is also the author of “Ten Mile River.” This is the story of two teenagers who together have escaped from foster care and juvenile detention centers. They end up living in New York City in an old abandoned station house. Tensions become high as both boys become intrigued with beautiful Trini from the barbershop. Readers have given “Ten Mile River” a five-star rating.
For those rare moments of peace and quiet, adult readers have a host of books to choose from. “Wish You Well” by David Baldacci, is not the typical action-packed book Baldacci followers have come to love. It is 1940 in New York City. Louisa Mae Cardinal and her family are devastated at the sudden death of her father. Soon Louisa, her brother and mother are on their way to family tucked away in a remote area of Virginia. Although initially unhappy as she is thrust into a new life away from the chaos of New York City, Louisa Mae soon learns to love her new life in the mountains. “Thirteen Moons” by Charles Frazer is the story of Will, a 12-year old boy who is sent away from home with just his horse, a key and map to make his way into the Indian Nation to run a trading post. Frazer, a detailed and verbose writer, takes the reader on a journey with Will that takes him on a quest to help preserve the Cherokee people, their land and their culture. Frazer also authored “Cold Mountain,” the story of a Civil War soldier making an arduous journey back to his home.
Jeff Shaara is the author of “The Final Storm, a Novel of the War in the Pacific.” Shaara is the son of Michael Shaara, who won the Pulitzer for his novel “Killer Angels,” the story of the Battle of Gettysburg. Jeff has followed in his father's footsteps and has written many historical novels. “The Final Storm” is the story of the Battle of Okinawa. “The Help,” written by Kathryn Stockett, is the story of life in the south just prior to the start of the civil rights movement. It is the story of the many black maids who lovingly raised the children of the white families they worked for. For those old enough to remember, this story will touch the hearts of many readers. Dorothea Benton Frank is the author of many novels about the low country of the Carolina coast. Her latest book is entitled “Folly Beach.” For Cate Cooper, the main character in Frank's new book, Folly Beach is home. It now becomes her refuge as Cate finds herself widowed and homeless.
Our local library offers a host of services for their patrons. This summer, check out what they have to offer and enjoy those special family times that make treasured memories.