Storytime is always a popular activity at Spokane Public Libraries – especially during the summer months when kids flock to sign up for the summer reading program.
But on Aug. 4, a larger crowd than usual filled the South Hill Library. More than 150 kids and adults jostled for space, eager to meet the special guests who’d come to read a few stories.
This year’s summer reading theme for kids is “Every Hero has a Story,” and for many folks, heroes don’t come any larger (or taller) than members of the Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball team.
“We thought that inviting the Zags to read to kids at a special family storytime would work well for our theme, because the players inspire kids to read, take school seriously, play sports, and work together as a team,” said Ellen Peters, South Hill Library manager. “They are generous with their time and set a great example. They are local heroes for so many kids in the community.”
Indeed, when GU players Dustin Triano, Jack Beach, Josh Perkins and Jonathan Williams entered the library, an excited buzz filled the room.
Perkins read “Swish,” a story about two girls basketball teams fighting for a championship.
The players seemed to enjoy the story as much as the audience.
During the question-and-answer time, kids peppered the players with questions.
“How tall are you?”
“When’s your birthday?”
This interaction between fans and players was exactly what Peters said she had hoped for when she scheduled the event. They’ve also hosted firefighters at the library, and an EMT is presenting “Be a First Aid Hero!” teaching kids how to prevent injuries and assist those who need help.
The summer reading program is designed to keep children’s reading levels up to speed, so they won’t have lost any ground when school starts.
So far, almost 6,000 have signed up for the program. A completed reading log, brought to any library branch, earns kids and teens a book to keep, and adults will be entered into a prize drawing.
At the South Hill, branch the questions kept coming.
A child asked Williams, “What did you do when you were a kid?”
The Tennessee native replied, “I played basketball, video games and did homework.”
“And we ate our veggies,” Beach added.
A boy asked Perkins, “How did you get interested in basketball?” Perkins replied, “My dad played and I wanted to be like my dad.”
And then came the question that must have delighted library staff. A small boy in a Spiderman shirt asked, “How much do you guys like the library?”
A grin split Williams face. “It’s a quiet place where I get a lot of work done,” he said. “I love the library.”
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