Thanks to a generous Civic and Community Programs grant from BEMC, Barbee Library on Oak Island and Harper Library in Southport offered an array of entertaining and educational summer reading programs throughout June and July. Beyond providing books and tracking reading, the program included such experiences as live music, a “FoamNFun” party, ambassador animals from the Fort Fisher Aquarium, pirate drama, magic shows, and even a visiting pelican from the Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter, along with food and prizes to keep kids engaged.

This year’s program theme was “Oceans of Possibility”, especially relevant for children in our coastal communities. Given the pandemic impacts in the past two years, the chance to gather in person was especially welcome for parents and students, who were able to form new connections beyond their classmates.

Program attendance numbers confirm the popularity of this year’s programs. For example, Harper Library in Southport logged 63 registered kids ages 1 to 14 over the summer, and 20,409 minutes of reading. Barbee Library on Oak Island logged 93 registered kids ages 2 to 12 and 34,295 minutes of reading.

Summer reading is vital in helping students maintain their skills when school is not in session. By helping to fund these programs, BEMC is making a long-term investment in our communities, fostering childhood literacy and a love of learning. Participants will be better equipped to navigate school, work collaboratively with others, and make the most of their opportunities in their life beyond the classroom. Learning about our coastal environment and history may also inspire children to consider educational and career options that will help preserve and enhance our natural resources and build on our fascinating heritage.

Thank you to BEMC and to our hardworking library staff who ensured that this would be a summer to remember for so many kids and their families!