A diverse selection: Library offers exciting opportunities for visitors of all ages

PUNXSUTAWNEY — With the cold winter months upon us, many like to sit down with a good book and catch up on some reading.

Those at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library are keeping warm and staying busy by offering some new and exciting programs this winter for both kids and adults.

Starting Jan. 8, the library will begin offering not only literacy classes but also the Winter Reading Program known as the Tentative-Elementary Fun Program.

The Winter Reading Program is for kids in grades K-6 and will be held every Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, beginning the week after Groundhog Day.

Kids who participate will be able to take part in a variety of activities, including games, crafts and storytelling.

They will be required to read 10 non-school books, with a deadline of May. Those who accomplish that goal will not only be eligible to win prizes, but also will receive a certificate of completion.

At the end of the program, a pizza party will be held.

"People really enjoy the summer reading program," said Coral Ellshoff, library director. "This new program is a way to get the elementary-aged kids out of the house during the winter months. I am not sure if Saturdays will work or not, but we are hoping it does."

Ellshoff also said she thinks that it will be easier for parents who work throughout the week to get their children involved this way.

This will be the first year for the Winter Reading Program.

Another change in the programming at the library comes as it has just hired a new Children's Activities Director, Jennifer Soliday, who will be doing all of the children's programs from the toddler literacy class and pre-K literacy class to the "'Tweens" Group and the Teens Group.

The toddlers’ literacy class will be for children 1-1/2 to 3 years of age. The program will teach them what a book is, what's inside a book and how to handle a book. It will also teach them to connect words and sounds.

Much of this will be taught through songs and storytelling. The toddler
classes will be held on Tuesday from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

Next is the Pre-K Program, which is designed for children ages 3 to 5 and will help build onto the skills taught in the Pre-K literacy class. Children in this age range already know what a book is and have changed their aim to trying to learn how to read.

In the class, they will learn how to read and understand through games, crafts and storytelling.

This program will be held on Wednesday and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. with different themes for each individual class.

The 'Tweens Program is aimed at the older kids who attend middle school. It is not only a new program but one driven specifically for the age group.

The program originated from a small group of students who have volunteered at the library for the past year.

Those who attend will not only talk about books but also get to be active in creating things. One of the things that they are looking forward to most is drawing comic strips.

"Reading and drawing go together," said Ellshoff. "If a child is struggling with the comprehension of a story, they may find it easier to draw it out."

The 'Tween Program will meet on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m.

The final program — the Teen Program — started out as a monthly program that has been holding strong for a year-and-a-half now.

It will now be held every week — on Tuesday — from 5 to 7 p.m.
The program has five to eight teens who currently attend and not only discuss books but watch movies and play board games together.

They also decorated the library's Christmas tree this year.

"It's a great way for kids to look at reading as fun," said Ellshoff.
In addition to the variety of programming directed at children, though, there is also some programming taking place at the library this winter for adults.

For anyone age 16 and up, the Catastrophic Book Club is an option, where participants will discuss crazy fiction and non-fiction books. This group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 5 to 7 p.m.

And any adults who currently struggle with how to use a computer may find the Beginning Computers class to be quite helpful. It is a six–week class that starts on Jan. 14.

Classes will be held on Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m.

On Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m., there is another adult computer class — this time offered for those who have conquered the beginners' skills but would like to advance their knowledge a bit.

And last, but certainly not least, the Book Club is offered for those who love to read. It gathers together and discusses the book of the month.

At this point, 20 people have signed up, and more are expected to do so.
These library programs not only offer an outlet for learning and reading, but also a place to interact with other people, especially when it's not so nice outside to do so.

Anyone who would like to sign up for the programs can do so by contacting the library at 814-938-5020 or stopping by the library at 301 East Mahoning Street, Suite 4.