Blanchard Community Library launched its 2015 summer reading program, Read to the Rhythm, with their annual visit from Ronald McDonald.

Blanchard Community Library launches
2015 summer reading program

July 03, 2015
Santa Paula News

Blanchard Community Library launched its 2015 summer reading program, Read to the Rhythm, with their annual visit from Ronald McDonald.

Children began showing up a half hour early, with parents in tow, for front row seats. This year there were over 140 children and 100 adults cheering on Ronald as he dazzled the children with stories, games and magic.

“It’s wonderful not only that I encourage the children to read, but it’s so wonderful to see their smiles on their faces and the fact that they do come to the library,” McDonald said. “People are forgetting how important the libraries are. [The library] invites me every year and it makes it possible for the children to come in and appreciate the books.”

Ronald began his show, It’s Book Time, by proclaiming that “Readers are leaders!” He called up volunteers to help him tell everyone how many different types of reading there are. He showed them they can read music, read scripts for a play, read about ecology, and read to another person. Ronald also read from his “Story Book” in both English and Spanish. His young volunteers helped by howling when the wind blew, waving their finger when lightning struck, yelling “ba-boom” when thunder was heard, and clapping when the rain began to pour. This was just one of the many activities he performed to amaze the children.

It’s Book Time is meant to show children that reading helps them learn while also being fun. Ronald told the children, “When you read, everyone is a winner!”

“Books are very important because it’s different between having it right in front of you and turning the pages as you read and build excitement than having to look into a screen,” Ronald said. “It’s just not as personal, but a book is something tangible. You can hold onto it, you can turn the pages, you can go back to it over and over again.”

After the show was over, Ronald lined up all the children so they could meet him, take a picture, and grab their goodie bags, which included a coupon for an ice cream cone at McDonalds, crayons, a coloring book, and other items. Parents were snapping away with their cameras as the young children could only help but smile as they met Ronald.

“When they leave today I hope they appreciate the library even more and are able to find books that they enjoy reading,” Ronald said. “I encourage them to read different kinds of books because it lights up their imagination. It’s actually the key to imagination.”

Ilene Gavenman, the Children’s and Young Adult Librarian, invites Ronald every year to begin the summer reading program. The program’s theme this year is Read to the Rhythm and runs from June 15 to August 4. Every Tuesday between those dates there will be a different family activity such as Pulse Drumming, David Cousin Juggler, and Mad Science “Sounds Like Science.”

“We love having Ronald because he promotes reading, the children enjoy his antics, but he also promotes reading in such a nice way and we love having him come,” Gavenman said.

Children up until 6th grade can sign up for Read to the Rhythm in the library where they place their name on a bulletin board and receive a folder where they write down all the books they have read. They bring the folder back and receive prizes for the amount of books they have read. Prizes include bookmarks, activity pages, disco hats, maracas, and much more. If they complete the program and read 20 books, they receive a reading certificate and a gold note seal to place on their certificate.

Teens, 6th grade and up, may also sign up for the program and they’ll receive a folder where they write the books they have read. The difference is they receive a ticket for every 50 pages they read and at the end of the summer the library will have a large party and raffle with cake and ice cream. In the past, over 200 prizes have been raffled off including Dodger tickets, gift cards, books, DVDs, guitars, and blankets.

As of June 17, 225 children and 85 teens have already signed up for the summer reading program and a total of almost 600 participants are expected to sign up.

“No matter how much we spend on getting a super quality puppet show or performer, Ronald is our biggest evening of the year,” Gavenman said with a laugh. “He is a celebrity of sorts. The parents are happy for their children to have an opportunity to come and meet him and take pictures with him. We’re so happy we can host that event.”

Even Ronald has his own birthday and anniversary. His birthday’s May 1 and his anniversary of being Ronald McDonald is on Thanksgiving every year. Next year will be his 50th anniversary and after coming to the Blanchard Community Library for almost 30 years now, Ronald’s enthusiasm is as young as ever.

“The audience makes it new every time,” Ronald said. “When I come to an institution like this, a library, when I visit hospitals, there’s always new people to visit. Even sometimes like here, there’ll be many of the same faces, but always new surprises.”

Gavenman hopes that Ronald continues to come for a long time because he has meant so much to the library and the community that she can’t imagine what it would be like without him. 

“It’s like I’m at home, coming to family,” Ronald said.

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