Rutland Free Library can’t take local kids to the moon, but it can bring the moon to them.
A collection of moon rocks will be at the organizer center as one of the main events for this year’s summer reading club, which launched Friday and will continue through Aug. 16. Organizer June Osowski said 110 kids had signed up so far and that enrollment usually hits 300. The only real requirement is that participants log what they are reading, and even that one isn’t entirely required.
“I keep it simple,” Osowski said. “When kids are out of school, they don’t want to make a commitment to spend their time unless they’re convinced it’s going to be fun.”
Children who maintain their summer reading log — provided to participants as part of a packet — can get it stamped on certain dates in exchange for items such as pencils, doorhangers indicating that they are reading and, of course, books. Participants can enter various drawings along the way. The event has an annual theme, chosen nationally, and this year’s is “A Universe of Stories.”
“With the 50th anniversary of the (first) lunar landing this year, I think that’s how they chose the current theme,” Osowski said. “I just ordered new books about the lunar landing. We’re doing a story hour with the theme of life on Mars. There are some fun books about a school field trip to the moon.”
While Osowski said she has an on-theme book list, none of it is mandatory.
“We tend not to try to push any particular thing,” she said. “It’s really important to give them choice. That’s what’s going to turn them into readers.”
Events include a visit from the Fairbanks Museum’s traveling planetarium (July 31) and a day of using crayons and watercolors to draw the galaxy (Aug. 1). The moon rocks will be on display July 15-20, culminating with an event July 20, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
“We’re having real moon rocks at the library,” Osowski said. “These are from NASA. I understand Montshire Museum wanted them but we got them.”
The moon rock display was arranged by Tom Estill, who used to work for NASA as an educator at the Goddard Space Center. Estill will also display items from his personal collection of space exploration memorabilia.
“My interest in space goes way back to the 1950s,” he said. “I remember my grandfather taking me outside to see Sputnik fly over Albuquerque. ... I was trained to handle moon rocks before I even worked with NASA. ... As the years went by, I’ve been able to obtain moon rocks and show them, mostly at schools where I was working. I’ve kept that certification up to date.”
Items from Estill’s own collection will include a 5-foot replica of a Saturn V rocket and a map of the moon.