Kane Larson, 5, watches as Star Michaelina makes a dog out of a balloon. The dog would get popped, but later reappear!  PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/NEWS-RECORD
Kane Larson, 5, watches as Star Michaelina makes a dog out of a balloon. The dog would get popped, but later reappear! PHOTO BY ANTON ADAMEK/NEWS-RECORD
The school year may have ended for many area students, but there will be continued encouragement from local libraries to keep kids reading throughout the summer. They will meet this goal with libraries throughout the nation with this year's summer reading program theme, "Dig Into Reading."

The Harmony Public Library will be holding weekly programs every Thursday from June 6 through July 25 to help area kids discover the joys of reading. Organized by librarian Kay Himlie, almost everything in the programs will relate to digging, dirt and underground animals.

"The goal is for the kids to relax and have fun with reading," shared Himlie.

The eight-week program kicked off on May 23 with a visit from magician Star Michaelina, who performed several tricks all while encouraging kids to keep reading.

Two sections of children will meet at the community center in Harmony. Preschool through kindergarten-aged children will meet from 9 to 10 a.m. First through sixth grade children will meet from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

The first week, June 6, will have the kids gardening on the north patio. They will be starting their own forget-me-not flowers and aloe vera plants and taking them home.

In the second week on June13, the kids will be learning about machines that dig and doing an activity where they create their own license plate.

A board game day is scheduled for the next week on June 20 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for the older age group. The Pre-K group will be learning about dinosaurs and playing games relating to them.

On June 27, the kids will be learning about getting dirty and doing some finger-painting. No puddles will be jumped into.

Underground animals will be the topic of discussion on July 11 for the Pre-K kids. The older age group will be decorating flowerpots and other items that they will be able to take home.

Week six will deal with hidden treasures with a treasure hunt in bottles planned.

The final week, July 25, will find the kids drawing pictures relating to digging "up, down and all around".

In addition to the group projects and activities, Himlie will be reading a book relating to the topic.

In the afternoon the children will be able to come back to the library and practice reading to a golden retriever named Jake. They will be able to set up a time between 1 and 1:45 p.m. on any Thursday. Jake will stay after 1:45 for a short time for kids who forgot to sign up and still would like to read to him.

This is the second year, the library has had Jake. "When kids read to a dog and make a mistake they don't get as intimidated," shared Himlie, who said she had gotten the idea a couple years ago.

The dog is very energetic, but Himlie said even kids who are scared of dogs could probably warm up to Jake.

Every week, Himlie will give a reading challenge and check up the following week to see who completed it. Prizes will be awarded for those who do read, such as porcupine pens, flying discs, water bottles and animal balloons. Every child will also receive a book through the program.

"We want to give kids opportunities to learn to read," said Himlie adding, "Education down the road gets easier when you keep your reading skills going."