Turtle Power! Elgin library enlists TMNT for summer reading program

Cowabunga! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are embarking on an important mission — encouraging Elgin area kids to read.

The Gail Borden Library in Elgin has made the heroes in a half shell the centerpiece of their summer “Reading is Rad” program with a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer” exhibit at the main branch at 270 N. Grove Ave. in Elgin.

“These Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are doing a fantastic job of bringing families to the library,” said Denise Raleigh, division chief of public relations and development for the library.

“It's our job once they get here to get them signed up for summer reading, which is so important.”

The exhibit, created by Nickelodeon and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, is a full-scale, hands-on installation featuring problem-solving games and “ninja training” opportunities like a pizza launcher, balance boards, a rope maze and plenty to climb on and through.

The turtles will be on display, sharing their life lessons and team-building skills, until Aug. 27.

TMNT, launched as a comic book in 1984, follows the adventures of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael, four anthropomorphic turtle brothers trained in ninjutsu who fight evil in New York City. Over the years, the characters branched out into television, video games, toys and film, including “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” which is set to premiere in August.

Raleigh said more than 2,000 people already have registered for their reading program through the app Beanstack. That's 25% more than at the same time last year.

“We're going to make it easy for families to bring kids by entertaining them with all kinds of wonderful turtle features,” she said. “But at the end of the day, we just want them to read.

“Reading is a skill set that will pay off.”

The summer reading challenge, which runs through Aug. 4, is open to all ages and offers prizes for kids through eighth grade, including a grand prize drawing for items like a board book and puzzle bundle, a DUPLO set, Squishmallows and gift cards.

Families who complete summer reading will be entered in a drawing for a family membership to the Shedd Aquarium.

On Saturday, kids and families who have signed up for the summer reading program can take photos with Michelangelo and Raphael from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the main branch.

Families who want to be among the first in line can participate in a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning focus group about transportation, which goes from 9:05 to 9:55 a.m. in Meadows Community Room C. Register for the focus group at

  Ayaan Patel, 3, of Elgin checks out the sewer in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles display at the Gail Borden Library Monday. Rick West/
  Jayden Bauer, 7, of Geneva fires a “pizza” at a bad guy at the Gail Borden Library's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles installation. Rick West/
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