Libraries Plan Summer of Heroes

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Reading Programs Feature Historical & Local Figures

By John Pedler

Hampton Union, Friday, June 25, 2004

When most kids think about "heroes," their thoughts normally turn to icons such as Batman and Superman. This summer, the Hampton Falls Free Library is reminding them that there are real heroes in town that they see everyday.

The town is taking part in the state's "Check Out a Hero" summer reading program that will be available to children in many public libraries throughout New Hampshire. Hampton Falls has decided to focus its program on local heroes who live and work in town.

They began by hosting a concert by TJ Wheeler, a well-known blues musician, on Wednesday night for children and parents. This was the first in a summerlong series of events.

Next week, therapy dogs Benny and Lucy will come to the library Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Their owner will explain to children how they go to Exeter Hospital to visit patients.

Later in the summer, the library will feature local puppeteer Martha Dana, a performance of "comedy magic" by Mr. Phil and Co., Outback Bill and his exotic animals, a reading by Ronald McDonald and the second annual Hampton Falls Free Library Talent Show open to children of all ages.

And throughout the summer, the library will host drop-in storytime on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Each week a local hero will read to assembled children. Police Chief Robbie Dursa will be the first to read next week.

The library is also running book discussion groups for middle and high school kids.

The North Hampton Public Library also began its summer reading program this week, with signup continuing until July 26. Children are invited to set and meet their own reading goals to become "reading champions."

On Monday, the NHPL will host a Boston Museum of Science presentation called "Fog, Flowers and Fireworks" at 7 p.m.

Other summer programs include lessons in origami, a puppet workshop with Martha Dana, an appearance by Alexander the King of Jesters, and visits to Chautauqua in Portsmouth where legends from American history - such as Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman - will speak in full period dress.

The library requires registration for the origami and puppet workshops.

At the Lane Library in Hampton, a local hero will visit at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays following the,9:30 a.m. storytime. Firefighter Jon True was the first to visit last Wednesday. Next week, the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will send a representative. Other visitors will include puppeteer Martha Dana, karate instructor Steve Perry, a state police canine unit and a musical finale with Steve Blount.

On Fridays, the library will also host Hero Movie events at 1 p.m., beginning today with "The Mask of Zorro."

Throughout the summer, the Lane Library will also be collecting "gently used" backpacks that will be delivered to a local food pantry at the end of the summer. "Kid-friendly" snacks will also be collected, giving local kids the opportunity to become local heroes.

In Seabrook, a new children's librarian is taking over. Registration for summer reading will begin July 9, and storytime will begin July 12. Updates regarding programs will be sent through the mail to town residents.

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