Library staff trying to offer ‘reading relief’ during pandemic with free reading bags

Posted February 9, 2021 at 3:18 pm


It was bitter cold Monday mid-day with temperatures barely reaching 30 degrees, but the staff at the Clinton County Public Library was plenty geared up for a week of handing out Valentine Family bags and Valentine Children’s Reading bags.

Librarian Margaret England said they are trying to keep kids reading and keep the public engaged.

The Clinton County Library is offering reading bags for all ages ranging from newborn through high school.

“Parents can come and get them. You get one per child,” England said. “Every bag had a book in it, every bag had a craft in it, activity cases, a little treat and a little surprise.”

In addition to getting a reading bag for a child, England also said the Library has family bags.

“You can also get a family bag and they have activities in there for your family, like a game and a book,” England said.

England and her staff has been putting these bags together with different themes starting the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2020.

“We went all the way up until the Wednesday before Christmas,” England said.

During that six week time period, England said they handed out more than 1,200 bags to people in and around Clinton County.

“We were astounded at how popular they were,” England said. “We just found that people were really tired of being inside.”

England said she couldn’t have imagined it would have received the response it did.

“When I was in Somerset in January at a store and this parent came up to me with her two little girls and she said, ‘They are too shy to say anything to you, but they wanted you to know how much they liked those reading bags that you all gave them.’”

England said her staff works really hard at putting the reading bags together.

“We are just trying to do that again,” England said. “Just to get kids to like reading and to keep reading. We try to tailor the bags to the ages of the kids ,so we will ask what are the ages of the kids.”

England said it’s all about getting back into the community.

The money the taxpayers give us, we are trying to be good about using it in a way to reach the community,” England said.

England said they did a similar program during the summer, but grant money was used for that program.

“We didn’t get to do our summer reading program the way we are used to doing it. During summer reading, we gave away bags all summer long,” England said. “Every week you could come by and get a bag for your child. We got grant money for that. What we would have normally spent for summer reading, we used that money to fund what we did at Christmas.”

Anyone who would like to pick up a reading bag can do so through this Saturday.

Debbie Sells and Felicia Clunie loaded the book mobile with several reading bags that are delivered to various schools and daycares in Clinton County. Reading bags are free to the public and are available from now until Saturday at the Clinton County Public Library.