Common Ground: Summer readers can find treasure

With this summer’s latest blockbuster movie creations drawing in the crowds, libraries are pulling in folks who will imagine their own special effects and blockbusters from tote bags filled with mystery, suspense, science fiction and audio reads.

I signed up for the adult reading program earlier this week and checked out a book and its audio companion, J. California Cooper’s “Life is Short But Wide,” about an early 20th century family’s struggles and hardships in the South.

Reading its 317 pages over the next few weeks will be challenging, so checking out an audio version is much more doable.

“ Because adults are busy and may not have time to sit and read, they can put the audio book version into their cars and keep up as well. It gets the whole family reading and it sets a good example,” Brenda Coles, Rosedale Library branch manager, said.

Summer readers can also expect a lot of return and reward for their efforts. Adults can earn T-shirts or duffle bags and certificates. Children and teens earn prizes including free French fries, T-shirts and water bottles .

Coles tailors her weekly library events for neighborhood children and encourages them to read and record their books. My son, who is 8, and his sisters, 6 and 11, signed up for “Dig into Reading.” Coles demonstrated her point on why readers must dig.

Following her animated reading of “How I Became a Pirate,” she hid objects inside a portable pool, filled it with shredded paper, passed out toy shovels and brought my children and others on a treasure hunt.

“When you dig in the ground, you find other things beside treasure. There are also beetles and worms and things that cultivate the ground,” she said .

She also encourages children to use their minds.

“I get them to use their imagination and picture that they are on a beach with a pirate sailing by. At the movie theater, a picture is placed before them so that they don’t use their imagination. With words, the stories come alive and they put themselves in the surrounding and they make it their own,” Coles said.

Coles said her own hands-on approach with her young library patrons is her effort at building an unforgettable library experience.

“We try and make it a welcoming, inviting and safe environment. It gives them that library experience and once they reach adult age, it’s memories they’ll remember ,” she said.

I too remember my father bringing me to the Baton Rouge main library where I’d spend hours perusing the aisles and reading “Mary Poppins,” “Little House on the Prairie,” mystery books, and authors including Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.

All of those books were page turners that filled my mind with pictures and thoughts and what ifs, things that movie theaters and special effects cannot create for us.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at