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Summer promises to be busy at the library

Given that May is both Older Americans Month and Family Wellness Month, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about grandparents and grandchildren.

Grandparents play an important role in families and society-sharing wisdom, family history and often sweet treats with their grandchildren. A visit from an out-of-town grandparent creates a memory that grandchildren hold dear many years later. The relationship is different, but no less special, for those children who are raised by their grandparents, whether they live together, or the grandparent is the caregiver while the child’s parent goes to work. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2007, 2.6 percent of all Minnesota children were living in grandparent-headed households. Even more grandparents provide the primary out-of-home childcare. The 2011 numbers are likely to be higher, given the current state of the economy. These living situations present unique challenges for everyone involved, but there are resources available to help you and your family.  

The foremost organization is the Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association. The organization’s website,, is a good starting place for information and support. You can request a free “Legal Steps Manual” book or DVD to find out about your options for financial and legal assistance and get connected to local groups and events.  The library also has materials on raising your grandchildren, and a whole host of books and magazines on parenting and child development. Call or stop in to get the information you need.

No matter the living situation, the Brainerd lakes area in summer is a great place to be a kid! The parks, lakes, trails, and woods all call out to be explored. A great opportunity for just that is our new program, “Geocaching a Minnesota Mystery.”  At the library you will receive all the information you need: the mystery, a free Crow Wing State Park Day Pass, and you can even borrow a GPS unit from the Brainerd Public Library or Crow Wing State Park. Once you have the mystery from the library, you will then go to Crow Wing State Park to find the geocaches and solve the end of the story. The coordinates at the end of each chapter will lead you throughout the park and to the end of the story. If you are unfamiliar with how to use a GPS unit, we are offering a workshop, “GPS and Geocaching for Beginners.”  It will be held June 2nd at 5:30 p.m. at the library. You can bring your own GPS unit or use one of ours.

The library’s summer reading program officially begins on June 1, when children ages preschool to high school can sign up for chances to win prizes and keep track of their reading throughout the summer.  The theme this year is “One World, Many Stories,” involving activities and music from countries all over the planet. We thank the many local businesses who have donated fantastic prizes this year! Bring in your young loved ones for a summer full of adventure. Our regular story time hours continue throughout the summer: Monday at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday at 10:15 a.m., and the new baby story time for ages birth through 24 months is Thursday at 11:15 a.m. Join us for stories, songs, and crafts!

If you’re planning a family road trip this summer, check out our selection of audio books for children. Many classics and new favorites are available on cassette, CD and Playaway (an MP3 player preloaded with an audio book). Pick one up for each kid, or choose one for the whole family to listen to in the car. We also have a great selection of eAudiobooks online that can be downloaded to MP3 players like iPods and Zunes. Call the library to find out how you can get started with this great new service!

For some fun geared toward grown-ups, join us for one of the upcoming author visits.  Kevin Kling is a well-known Minnesota playwright and storyteller, and his commentaries can be heard on NPR’s All Things Considered. Both of his books, “The Dog Says How” (2007) and “Holiday Inn” (2009), have been finalists for the Minnesota Book Award. His plays and adaptations have been performed around the world. He will be performing at the Central Lakes College Chalberg Theater this Thursday at 7 p.m. Free tickets are available at the Brainerd Public Library. If tickets are no longer available, there will be a rush line at the Chalberg five minutes before the show begins.

Actor and writer Patrick Dewane will be performing his one-man play about his grandfather, whose CB radio-handle during the 1970s -“The Accidental Hero”- was a clue to his incredible story as a Worle War II Czech-American soldier fighting in the forests of his family’s ancient homeland. Dewane’s grandfather, Matt Konop, rarely talked about the war, but years after his death Dewane was handed a pile of typewritten pages that a family member had discovered in a box in a basement. “The Accidental Hero” is an astonishing story about history, the reality of war and the mystery of heroes. See him at one of two performances on May 23 at 10 a.m. at Edgewood Vista Senior Living Center in Brainerd or at 5:30 p.m. at the library. I have heard nothing but rave reviews about this program.  

Our annual summer brown bag lunch author series takes place on Mondays from noon to 1 p.m. during June and July. You can bring your own lunch along to enjoy while you listen. On June 6, popular speaker, storyteller and photographer Doug Ohman will show images from his new book “Libraries of Minnesota.” The libraries featured include the unique stone building of the Cass Lake library, and classic Carnegie icons built in the early 1900s.

Mary Shideler, “the Kayak Lady,” will join us on June 13 to discuss her experiences over 15 years exploring and kayaking the 1,007 lakes of Itasca County, often on her own.

On June 20, Minnesota novelist Jim Proebstle visits us to tell us about his new book, “Fatal Incident,” about a World War II pilot in Alaska who is tapped for classified flying duty involving top-secret A-bomb documents. Please join us for one or all of these events that celebrate and enhance family life in the Minnesota summertime.

LAUREL HALL is the senior outreach coordinator for Kitchigami Regional Library System.