How to keep kids engaged in learning and off their devices this summer

The Children's Festival of Reading from the Knox County Library held on the World's Fair Site Saturday, May. 18, 2019.

Kids can dance to music, listen to stories, watch cartoonists create, see science come alive — oh! and learn more about books! — at the Knox County Public Library’s Children’s Festival of Reading on Saturday, May 21, from 10 am to 5 pm at World’s Fair Park. The festival is free to attend. 

The festival kicks off the library’s summer reading club, Oceans Of Possibilities: Dive In Deep. It will feature authors reading their books, illustrators, storytellers, arts and crafts, food, music, fun for the youngest tots and much more. 

Michael Patrick The Children’s Festival of Reading from the Knox County Library held at World’s Fair Park.

Erin Nguyen, the library’s children’s services manager, said keeping kids engaged in learning and reading helps fight learning loss over the summer. The Oceans of Possibilities reading program offers prizes to both kids and adults who track their reading over the summer. Kids who rack up reading time receive a toy or gift as well as a coupon book for discounts for activities around town.  

In addition, each library branch hosts programs for kids that range from story times for the youngest ones to magic shows, zoo presentations, chemistry experiments, music workshops and other programs. The schedule of activities can be found on the library website,

To get kids interested in reading, parents should be, too, Nguyen said. “It’s a great example to read and show your kids you enjoy reading. And read to them. For each child, find out what they’re interested in reading about. Or read some of your favorite books you read as a kid. Sharing those interests keeps kids engaged.”

Nguyen also recommends some of her favorite books and authors: “Of course, I would suggest any of our festival authors’ titles for reading: Jeffrey Brown, Tad Hills, Erin Entrada Kelly, Kwame Mbalia, Laurel Snyder, Daniel Wiseman,” she said. “For picture books, some other ideas: After the Fall by Dan Santat, How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, You Don’t Want a Unicorn by Ame Dyckman. For chapter books, classics like titles by Beverly Cleary or Roald Dahl. Newer books like this year’s Newbery Award winner The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera, books with humor, mystery, or adventure like Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein or The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer, and story collections like Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds.”

She also encourages parents to bring their kids to the library. “You may have books at home, but give them time to browse and find new books and ideas. It’s a wonderful way to explore.” 

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