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News Community Library staff works to bring literature to life

Maggie Kennedy and the staff at the library have made it their business to make coming to the library fun for kids. Kennedy dresses in costume as book characters to bring the books to life for the children.Literacy is a top priority in Macon County and the Macon County Public Library continues to lead the initiative of instilling the importance of literacy in the community's youth. In recognition of her efforts to increase the library's involvement with the children in Macon County, The Rotary Club of Franklin honored Maggie Kennedy with the Rotary Club of Franklin's Family and Community Service Award.

According to Rotary Club President Gary Dills, Kennedy received the award for her continual support of literacy not just in the library, but in community volunteer programs such as Read2Me for youth in the community. Kennedy has been a mainstay of Read2Me particularly with the youngest of readers.

Literacy is a top priority in Macon County and the Macon County Public Library continues to lead the initiative of instilling the importance of literacy in the community's youth. In recognition of her efforts to increase the library's involvement with the children in Macon County, The Rotary Club of Franklin honored Maggie Kennedy with the Rotary Club of Franklin's Family and Community Service Award.

According to Rotary Club President Gary Dills, Kennedy received the award for her continual support of literacy not just in the library, but in community volunteer programs such as Read2Me for youth in the community. Kennedy has been a mainstay of Read2Me particularly with the youngest of readers.

“Maggie has been a wonderful asset to the Macon County Public Library in the year that she’s been working with us,” said Karen Wallace, county librarian. “Her enthusiasm and energy help to engage children and parents with the pleasures of reading. She’s inspiring more people of all ages to visit the library for preschool story times, help with homework, summer reading fun, and many more activities the library’s children’s department staff offers. Once families visit the library and see all of the books and learning materials they can borrow for free, they’re excited too.”

Kennedy has worked at the Macon County Library for a little more than a year and has served as the Youth Services Assistant. Her love of literature and for children is evident through her dedication to engage the youngest readers in story time. With her main focus being on toddlers, preschool and early elementary age children, Kennedy assists in planning fun and interesting programs for the library to host to get the community involved.

Her reach is not limited to programs at the library in Franklin, but she travels to communities throughout Macon County to bring literacy to every child. She is in charge of outreach reading programs in Nantahala and plans programs and events for schools throughout the county. “I do outreach at Nantahala library monthly and this is increasing in September to bi-monthly and to include a pre-school reading program,” said Kennedy. “The library does school outreach programs upon a teacher's request. We can do individual class programs or a grade level program. The library also supports the story time at the Summer Edventure Camp, Macon Program for Progress preschoolers story times, and Great Beginnings Preschool. The Reading Rover also visits Macon County childcare centers.”

One of Kennedy's most creative ways to get the children involved in literacy is to bring characters from various books to life by dressing in costumes at the library. Kennedy has brought some of the most memorable children's literary figures to life in the past year. She has dressed as the fun-loving, confused maid, Amelia Bedelia, got silly as Dr. Seuss' infamous Thing 2, gave out candy at Halloween in the Park to help celebrate Where's Waldo's 25th Birthday, and brought the prairie to the children as Laura Ingalls.

She has also pranced around the library as a princess, pirate, Queen of Hearts, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Tigger and even a clown. According to Kennedy, children are receptive to the characters and by dressing up, she is able to add an element of reality and interaction between the literary figures and the children. Out of all of the costumes she has sported, Kennedy said her favorite was the pirate, while the children enjoyed Thing 2 the most.

Kennedy is instrumental in ensuring that all children in Macon County have open-ended access to books, even outside of what the library offers. “I represent the library at community events for Read2Me because early literacy is key to reading,” said Kennedy. “I promote the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the community to help parents obtain free age appropriate books through the mail. I serve as a go-to person for community questions regarding the program.”

To date, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library has had 500 Macon County children enrolled to receive free books every month until they reach five years old. Kennedy works with Read2Me to be a facilitator of the program and a contact for the community.

When time calls for it, Kennedy has a serious side. She works with the library and volunteer organizations such as the Western Mountain Reading Council to provide families in the community with a free resource on encouraging literacy in their homes. “The library sponsors preschool and parent/ caregiver workshop,” said Kennedy. “The children's library staff also joins with the Friends of the Library during the yearly sponsorship of a children's literature based production at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. We support the Read2Me book drive at the library and the Macon Early College book drive at the library. Through the Summer Reading Program for children of all ages, the library gives the child a free book when he/she has read 10 books.

“I think the children's area is key to inspire a lifelong enjoyment of reading as well as creating young readers,” said Kennedy. “I want to help the children think of the library as being a fun place to go.”





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