Andrea Cook  (right) reads to her Rock Port summer reading kids along with Libby Lotter and her daughter Piper (left).

Tiffanie Gaines uses the mural in the Rock Port Library to ask the kids many building questions.

Summer Reading is always an exciting time for children in Fairfax. Last week marked the end of this year’s program. The kids enjoyed listening to a number of books, as well as participating in activities related to those books. Pictured is Eli Auwarter in his construction gear. This year’s Summer Reading Theme was “Build A Better World.”


The children hosted by Andrea Cook had fun learning about circles, squares and triangles, some of those shapes we use to build things! Andrea read My House by B. Barton. The kids identified shapes they saw inside the house and outside, too! Libby Lotter, who assisted for the day, read Circle, Square, Moose by K. Bingham and P. O. Zelinsky. The story was about a silly moose who loved shapes. The children enjoyed Push! Dig! Scoop! by R. G. Greene, a delightful rhyming and counting book about construction. Mamas and Papas of the machinery world are teaching their little machines that construction is very hard work. At craft time shapes were chosen to glue and color to take home pages, and M&M candies were used to outline pages of squares, circles and triangles. The kids also counted the candies they used, and they identified the colors of the candies. The 3 and 4 year olds had a busy day!


Tiffanie Gaines asked her Tuesday group to take another look at Bob’s Build a Better World mural and consider these questions: What buildings do you see? What kind of workers would it take to build a school, a library or a hospital? Does it take workers with different skills to construct a building? The children discussed the job of the architect, engineer, carpenter, plumber and electrician. The kids listened intently to Too Tall Houses by G. Marino. Owl and rabbit were friends, and they had lived peaceably, side by side, for many years. What caused them to get in a race to build the tallest house? Was the result a success or a disaster? Guess you’ll need to read the book! Tiffanie read excerpts and showed pictures from If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by G. Laroche. She used a map of the world to point out the location of houses in Greece, Chile, Switzerland, France and Germany. Many of the dwellings had survived from ancient times. At activity time the kids formed groups and built structures of various materials and sizes. They were also asked to draw a picture of the house they lived in using details of color, style, etc. Mrs. Gaines did a hilarious reading of J. Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! By A. Wolf. The wolf’s side of the story! After the story, Tiffanie went around the room to see which of the kids’ buildings she could blow down with her hairdryer. The hairdryer was “wearing” a big, bad wolf disguise! These 5 and 6 year olds soon learned that, when you build, the technique is as important as the material! This great session ended with the reading of Puddle Pug by K. Norman, a cute story about kindness and compassion, another way to Build a Better World.

Jennifer Geib met with the youngest Thursday morning group this week. The focus of her program was friendship. What makes a good friend? What do you like about your friends? These were the recurring questions of the day. Mrs. Geib had designed a poster about friends. She wrote down traits of friendship as the children named them. The children listened to Stick and Stone by B. Ferry, and Each Kindness by J. Woodson. Stick and Stone become friends when they stick up for each other, they have fun together and they lend a helping hand when needed. Side by side, Stick and Stone make a perfect 10! Each kindness addresses the idea that sometimes we fail to reach out to someone who wants and needs a friend. A new student at school is ignored and made fun of, because she doesn’t wear nice clothes and she brings unusual food for lunch. No one plays with her or talks to her. One day the new girl is gone. Her classmates had to deal with feeling guilty about their bad behavior. They had missed an opportunity to be a friend! The kids made cootie catchers at craft time. They also potted flower seeds to give to someone special. Mrs. Geib concluded the day by asking each child to tell her “one kind thing you plan to do on this day.” Kindness does Build a Better World.


Trudy Heitman opened her program by highlighting ways to make structures, particularly houses, eco-friendly. Eco-friendly means being protective of and preserving the natural environment. An excerpt called Eco-houses, from P. Brook’s book Superstructures, illustrated many ways to make a house eco-friendly. Some examples of eco-friendly components of a house are: solar panels on the roof for heating air and water, timber from sustainable forests, rain water storage tanks, thick walls and lots of insulation to conserve energy and a composter for all types of waste. These children also enjoyed hearing about Mount Rushmore, one of the fabulous structures addressed in The Technology Behind Amazing Built Structures by N. Brasch. Mount Rushmore Memorial, located in South Dakota, was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and many others who worked under his supervision. Did you know the four presidents’ eyes are giant holes with cubes of granite left inside to form the pupil? It took fourteen years for Mt. Rushmore to be crafted! The kids had fun testing their knowledge of the names of other amazing structures such as the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids. The library provided five paper structures for the children to assemble and decorate to make their own tiny town. They started on this project at craft time, and hopefully they all enjoyed completing the project at home.


Brooke Walton greeted an excited group of 3 and 4 year olds, on Wednesday morning July 19. Events always get off to a great start when you blow bubbles! Brooke read Mighty, Mighty, Construction Site by S. D. Rinker and T. Lichtenheld. This little story is about the teamwork and cooperation it takes from all the giant trucks, diggers, loaders, cranes, etc., to have a successful building operation. The kids had a great time using imagination and teamwork to build “forts” out of chairs and bed sheets. They built a space satellite, a bridge and a lighthouse out of Legos at activity time. They built skyscrapers and towers out of wooden blocks. The kids had an eventful day of building!
Barbara Tubbs hosted the 5 and 6 year old children on Thursday morning. She read My Garden by K. Henkes, the story of a little girl who helped her mother weed her garden, while dreaming of having her very own special garden. She imagined her garden to have such things as flowers that never died, bunnies that didn’t eat lettuce (because they were chocolate), giant jelly beans, invisible carrots (because she didn’t like carrots) and tomatoes the size of beach balls! The group had a lively discussion about “building” vegetable gardens and flower gardens, and how gardens make the world a better place to live. Everyone planted their own pots of flowers to take home, and they made name tags for their pots. While they were planting, the children shared information about the flowers in their gardens at home.
This was the final week for both of the Tarkio reading programs. Eighteen children enrolled in these programs, and the weekly attendance was 16, 15 and 13. All participants received two new books, a summer reading certificate and lots of other goodies from the library.  Pizza Hut supplied certificates for pizza.

Construction was the focus of the day for the little ones meeting with Ashley Grossman, on Tuesday, July 18. The children heard two stories: Building Our House by J. Bean and Too Tall Houses by G. Marino.  The little construction workers colored paper tools to string on their take home tool belts. The library supplied them with yellow “hard hats” so they were looking fine! The kids enjoyed a play time of stretching, hopping, crawling and roaring like their favorite animals. These 3 and 4 year olds talked about the story of The Three Little Pigs as they ate treats today. The treats mimicked the building materials of the pig’s houses: shoestring potato “straw”, pretzel “sticks” and chocolate “bricks”!
It was all about water when Leann Ohlensehlen hosted her 5 and 6 year old group. Leann read A Cool Drink of Water by B. Kerley. Do people in all parts of the world always have access to clean drinking water? This simple but powerful book speaks to that question. The kids were enlightened by an experiment using hot and cold water and food coloring. Which temperature is a good mixer? Rainbow Fish by M. Pfister could be a story about the ocean, but it’s really a story about the power of sharing and friendship. The children enjoyed coloring pictures and adding sparkling scales to their rainbow fish. The discussion turned to water conservation after the kids listened to Fancy Nancy: Every Day is Earth Day by J. O’Connor. Each child received a hand-out with water saving tips. Hopefully, everyone will learn the rules and put them into practice at home!

Sarah Osburn’s group enjoyed listening to The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by K. Kasza, the story of a wily wolf who was secretly feeding a chicken, to fatten it up, for his very own chicken stew! Wolf was in for a big surprise when he went to nab the chicken for his stew! Did he make chicken stew, or did he have a change of heart? A Cool Drink Of Water illustrates how people in other parts of the world obtain clean drinking water. This simple book is a powerful story about the scarcity of accessible drinking water in much of the world. Polluted water is also a problem in many places. The group did experiments with “polluted” water. Is it easy to clean water polluted with oil of any kind? The answer is a resounding, NO! Other experiments involved the completion of previous projects that included nest building and egg drops. The success ratio for the egg drops was excellent! The kids enjoyed a great hour of fun and learning.
The focus of the Thursday morning group, meeting with Ashton Lewis, was kindness and compassion. Some of the thoughts and questions the children considered were: How does it feel to be excluded from a group who are playing and having fun? Should you make an effort to make others feel welcome? Is it okay to be different? Ashton read several books that addressed these questions. They included The Invisible Boy by P. Barton, Each Kindness by J. Woodson and The Day the Crayons Quit by O. Jeffers. Ashton read excerpts from Out of the Dump by K. Franklin and N. McGirr (photographer). Out of the Dump is a painful and poignant story of children in Guatemala City, Guatemala, who survive by gathering scraps from the huge city dump. They sell the scraps of plastic, metal and glass to make money to buy food and clothes, and sometimes they eat food from the dump. What a contrast to children’s lives in Fairfax, MO! The photographer who witnessed the children’s plight gave them cameras. She asked the children to film their daily lives and write stories about their day. That was a great act of kindness from the photographer, who provided the cameras and saw to it that the stories and pictures were published. Money earned by the stories and pictures improved the children’s lives. Ashton asked each one of the children who were present to write a note of kindness to someone who might be in need of a caring word. The world is a better place when people show concern for each other!