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updated: 4/10/2014 6:26 PM

Gail Borden kicks off summer reading program

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This year's summer reading program in Elgin will be held in conjunction with an exhibit featuring the children's book and animated character Clifford the Big Red Dog.

For the first time, students in Elgin Area School District U-46 will be getting summer reading logs at school, rather than from the Gail Borden Public Library, said Denise Raleigh, division chief of public relations and communications.

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"We're trying to be more all-encompassing," she said.

About 50 people attended a luncheon Thursday for the kickoff of the summer reading program, which last year earned a Governor's Hometown Award.

The "Paws to Read" program launches May 1, while the Clifford exhibit opens June 7.

The exhibit will include a nine-foot Clifford and an interactive display including a theater stage where kids can perform and make their own music, said Kate Burlette, director of library experiences.

The exhibit was created by the Minnesota Children's Museum in partnership with Scholastic, Inc., she said.

Libraries are an ever-important resources, Burlington Central Community Unit School District 301 Superintendent Todd Stirn said. Parts of District 301 feed into the Elgin library district.

"There are many things about elementary school that I don't remember, but I remember the bookmobile," he said. "We loved the bookmobile."

Summer programming at the Elgin library's Rakow branch will include a lot of outdoor programs, said director of branch services Christie Chandler-Stahl.

As in past years, an outdoor public art exhibit spearheaded by the Elgin Community Network -- a nonprofit that supports building sustainable and livable communities -- accompanies the library's reading program.

The 6th yearly outdoor exhibit is called "Where's Aldo?" after ecologist and environmentalist Aldo Leopold, who died in 1948, Raleigh said.

Residents, businesses and organizations can get -- and then decorate -- outdoor benches at $180 each. Twenty-four of 50 planned benches have been sold so far, he said.

Raleigh said the outdoor art exhibit was in danger of not happening this year, but ECN came through.

ECN board member and driving force Sigi Psimenos has been helping with the initiative despite being in the hospital awaiting bypass surgery, Raleigh added.

Psimenos' son, Anthony Pedote, is the organizer of the annual Elgin Community Carnival, which will provide free all-day carnival passes in October to kids who complete the summer reading program, he said.

For information about the summer reading program and the Clifford exhibit, visit gailborden.info.

For information about "Where's Aldo?" visit elgin-ecn.org/event/wheres-aldo.

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