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Tualatin Library teens have fun in the sun

The end of summer reading is approaching; teen summer reading club held 'Olympic-sized' finale last week.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Team Gallifrey's Yun Yi, 11, runs with a bottle of water on her head during a water race on the last day of teen summer reading club for the Tualatin Public Library.The teen summer reading program at the Tualatin Public Library, filled with special events and challenges to help middle- and high-schoolers while away the time over summer break, came to a close last Wednesday with a fun-filled finale at Tualatin Community Park.

The finale was originally planned as a scavenger hunt, said teen services librarian Aimee Meuchel. But it ended up merging in form with another event, becoming a sort of Olympic Games in which teams of teens (each named for lands of fantasy from pop culture and literature) competed to win zany challenges in the park.

Meuchel sees value in library events even when they don't have an immediate relationship to reading.

“We're more of a community gathering place where they can meet new people and do stuff they don't usually do,” she said.

After five physical challenges and three of what Meuchel described as “brain challenges,” Team Atlantis emerged victorious over Teams Narnia and Gallifrey, sealing its victory by becoming the first team to thaw out two frozen T-shirts enough for team members to put them on. Members of the team received little plastic medals and candy bars, while everyone got to go home with a semi-frozen ice pop.

Tenzin Dolkar, an eighth-grader at Twality Middle School, said she had a great time and that it felt good to be on the winning team — even though the finale might not have been quite what she had been expecting. (“I like scavenger hunts,” she said.)

Tenzin enjoys reading. She said she has been working her way through the “Harry Potter” book series for the first time this summer. So far, she loves the series, she said.

Meuchel and other librarians have been trying hard to get everyone in the community — including but by no means limited to teens — in the habit of reading this summer. The Tualatin Library has challenged its patrons to collectively read for 50,000 hours this summer. If that goal is met, the library will have a fine forgiveness week in September.

As of Tuesday, library specialist Julie Wickman said, patrons have reported 26,718.5 hours read. She anticipates more will turn in their reading logs as the end of the month approaches, although she said it's hard to know how many are outstanding at this point.

“My feeling is we'll get very close, if not reach, our community reading goal. It is a little bit higher than before,” Wickman said. “We want to challenge our community every year.”

Although there is still time for people to turn in their reading logs before the end of the month, the library is hosting a carnival at the Tualatin Commons for the end of summer reading this Tuesday. The event starts at 7 p.m. and is free for all ages.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - From left, Jaden Hopkins, 13; Katelyn LeBlanc, 11; Tenzin Dolkar, 13; and Lucy Buckman, 11, look for words in a word scramble game at Tualatin Community Park.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor
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