Sweet reads at Ridge Library

Food is theme of summer reading program

By Tara McManus

Children and adults alike are literally eating up books this summer at the Chicago Ridge Public Library.

The library on Wednesday held an “Eat a Book” contest in which each participant baked treats and decorated them in the likeness of their favorite book. The contest was just one of the many events the library has planned around its “Reading Is So Delicious” summer reading program. The contest results were not available to The Reporter by press time.

The library kicked off the summer with a luau-themed ice cream social during which The Royal Polynesian Revue, a dance troupe that performs traditional dances from Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand, dressed in traditional grass skirts, coconut tops and headdresses, and danced and sang for the audience. The luau was attended by between 350 to 400 people, according to the library’s Youth Services director Irene Ciciora.

The library is decked out in mouth-watering décor including food-themed bulletin boards that display children’s summer reading progress. Each bulletin board is dedicated to a neighboring school and features its students’ summer reading records. Ridge Central School’s board features a bag of popcorn overflowing with popcorn pieces with students’ names, while Ridge Lawn’s has a scoop of colorful ice cream for each participating student. At the end of summer, the library will give each school its bulletin board.

One of the most popular decorations this summer are aprons decorated by library staff members. Each staff member was given a plain white apron to decorate, and employees used paint, stickers, fabric and books, among other materials, to do so. The 20 aprons were hung up and patrons can vote for their favorites. Cicora said the aprons were much more popular than they had expected.

“Some people asked if we were selling them. We never expected that people would want to buy them. Maybe next year we’ll have a staff auction,” Ciciora said.

The library is offering summer reading programs for children, teens, families and adults. Participants read books to earn points, with more challenging books worth more points. A picture book, for example, is worth one point while a chapter book may be worth one point per chapter. Participants can then trade points for prizes. Each child who reads five points worth of books receives a ticket to attend the Windy City Thunderbolts game on Wednesday, July 25.

The library has a bevy of food-inspired activities planned this summer, from one-night events to weekly clubs for children and adults.

A “Rolling Bagel Contest” in which children can decorate bagels and then race them by rolling them on their sides. The children will see who has the fastest bagel at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Mr. D’s Magic and Illusion show will appear in the library parking lot at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 4. Mr. D will perform tricks and magic for children of all ages in his magic house on wheels.

The library’s 2nd annual Talent Show will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. Registration forms are available in the youth services department. Raffle drawing winners will be announced at the competition, and an Adult Summer Reading Party will be held at 7 p.m. There will be pizza and a prize drawing.

The library will present another adults’ activity on Aug. 22. Pub Trivia will be held at 7 p.m. at Jack Desmonds Irish Pub, 10339 Ridgeland Ave. in Chicago Ridge. Persons 21 years and older can compete for a grand prize.

The library offers “Breakfast and Books” and “Devour a Lunchtime!” on Tuesdays. Children can stop by at 10 a.m. to grab a small breakfast and listen to book talks, and at noon can bring lunches to the library and talk to firefighters, police officers and librarians. The “Candymaker’s Club” is held at 1:30 p.m. Thursdays, and “Food Storytime” is held the same day at 6 p.m. Children in grades three through eight can read the book “The Candymakers” by Wendy Mass and then make their own chocolate, sugar and gum candies. Ciciora said the youths often experiment.

“We’ve put cotton candy on gum and we’ve made oreo-cookie, chocolate-covered suckers,” Ciciora said.

It isn’t too late for children and adults to enjoy the decorations, sign up for the summer reading programs, or take part in the library’s events, Ciciora said. For more information, stop into the library, call (708) 423-7753, or visit