Hamilton Elementary School starts summer traveling library

Whether with books or board games, Hamilton Elementary School, Coon Rapids, is seeking to engage kids and keep up their academic skills throughout the summer with a traveling library.

Hamilton Elementary School supplemental teacher Karla Dahlheimer (left) helps fifth-grader Damaris Avila select a game to play. Photo by Bethany Kemming

Hamilton Elementary School supplemental teacher Karla Dahlheimer (left) helps fifth-grader Damaris Avila select a game to play. Photo by Bethany Kemming

The first traveling library day was June 21. The library traveled from Winchester Apartments in Coon Rapids from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then moved to Creekside Mobile Home Park parking lot from 1 to 3 p.m. and then to the Pondale Apartments’ pavilion from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Hamilton supplemental teachers Karla Dahlheimer and Doris Northup provided boxes full of board games, books, puzzles and more for any children who wanted to stop by and have fun.

“The idea started out as a traveling library, but it turned out that it was going to be more than just a library,” Dahlheimer said.

Children were invited to take home any books that they wanted to borrow.

Dahlheimer said although they write down what books students check out, they aren’t going to fine the children if they don’t bring the books back.

For many years, Hamilton Elementary turned in Box Tops for Education to receive books.

While they no longer turn the Box Tops in for books, there were many books left over that now supply the traveling library.

Dahlheimer said the idea for a library came out of a conversation with other teachers about how to keep kids engaged over the summer.

“A lot of times kids typically lose skills over the summer, especially students that need the most help,” Northup said. “You ask ‘what did you do over the summer?’ A lot of times you’ll hear ‘video games, video games, video games.’”

Although they aren’t having the kids go through any sort of curriculum, Dahlheimer said even the simplest games like Swamp Checkers at least get them counting.

“We want to keep our kids engaged, it’s just for fun,” she said.

Children and parents were invited to the traveling library through notices sent home as well as on Parent Link.

Since June 21 was the first time the library met, Dahlheimer said they didn’t know what to expect. She anticipates they’ll bring more supplies next time and that the games will be a big hit.

Fifth-grader Damaris Avila came to the traveling library in hopes of borrowing a lot of reading material.

“I need a lot of new books,” she said.

Avila is attempting to win a Half Price Books gift card by reading the most books in her age group for a reading contest.

Many students at the library expressed interest in coming again and bringing more friends.

Dahlheimer said she expects attendance to increase and also welcomes students that do not attend Hamilton Elementary.

The traveling library program will take place again July 19 and Aug. 16 at the same three locations.

Bethany Kemming is at [email protected]

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