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Library Gives Summer Reading a Facelift – Now EXPLORE MEMPHIS!

By: Marcey Wright

Click image to visit Explore Memphis website!Memphis Public Libraries have given their 30-year-old Summer Reading Program a facelift! The new and improved EXPLORE MEMPHIS is planned for June 2 - July 25, 2014 at each Memphis Public Library location. An expanded version of the traditional program, EXPLORE MEMPHIS will offer Library customers of all ages a chance to explore their interests, while exploring the Bluff City with free trips to several local attractions!

“We want customers to know that Memphis is more than any one community. We want them to learn new skills and to broaden their horizons personally and professionally,” emphasized Jason Sharp, an EXPLORE MEMPHIS organizer and youth services senior librarian at Whitehaven Library. “EXPLORE MEMPHIS is a way for kids, teens, adults, and even book clubs to find what they love and to explore that!”

Customers can choose from a few areas of “exploration,” centered on this year’s theme – Fizz, Boom, READ! – and the acronym STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Customers are encouraged to pick a STEAM category that interests them and read books, magazines, articles, or other material to learn more about it. Then, let the exploration begin! With a Library-issued “passport” in hand, customers can continue learning by visiting places like the Memphis Zoo, Pink Palace Museum, Dixon Art Gallery, Brooks Museum, Stax Museum, the Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art, Lichterman Nature Center, Theatre Memphis, and the Magevney House on designated dates and times to gain free admission! At each destination, teen and adult customers will receive a claim code that they can enter into the EXPLORE MEMPHIS website to receive a digital badge! (Children ages 12 and under will receive sticker badges for participating.) Customers are also invited to EXPLORE MEMPHIS by attending exciting STEAM programs throughout the Memphis Public Library System!

Families can compete to earn a badge in each STEAM category for reading, exploring, participating, and sharing their new skills! Each badge earns them points on the EXPLORE MEMPHIS website leaderboard, and at the summer’s end, customers will showcase what they’ve learned.

“We want to comply with and support Shelby County Schools’ Common Core Curriculum. Plus, parents can model for their children the importance of reading, as families EXPLORE MEMPHIS together,” noted Adult Services Coordinator Wang-Ying Glasgow. “By reading and participating, we plan to make programs fun enough to educate and entertain at the same time,” Sharp added.

Customers who want to beat the summer heat indoors can still participate in EXPLORE MEMPHIS by reading books and winning prizes! As under the traditional Summer Reading Program, customers can still enjoy the perks of Summer Reading at the Library, including the popular Baby Bingo and winning weekly prizes like free books and gift cards. The grand prize at the summer’s end will be a Kindle Fire! Plus, The Urban Child Institute (EXPLORE MEMPHIS event sponsor) will give a free activity book to each child ages three to five – just for participating.

To get started with EXPLORE MEMPHIS, kids ages 12 and under can visit any Memphis Public Library location. Teen and adult customers can visit the EXPLORE MEMPHIS website or any Library location.

“We want customers to EXPLORE MEMPHIS this summer but to start at your local Library!” Sharp concluded.

This event is a collaboration between the Memphis Public Library & Information Center, the City of Memphis, The Urban Child Institute, the Memphis Library Foundation, and Friends of the Library. Event partners include the Memphis Zoo, Pink Palace Museum, Dixon Art Gallery, Brooks Museum, Stax Museum, the Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art, Lichterman Nature Center, Theatre Memphis, the Magevney House, and others.

For more information about EXPLORE MEMPHIS, call (901) 415-2700 or visit www.explorememphis.org.