With the smell of pizza permeating the air and the sound of excited young voices playing like music in the background, the Mattapoisett Free Public Library on May 2 hosted its seventh annual Quahog Book Award reception.
Each year, children from Mattapoisett and surrounding communities are invited to participate in the winter reading program, a program started by Jessica Noblet, a former member of the library staff. The program has grown each year since its inception.
The program participants are granted the opportunity to vote on which books will be dubbed Quahog Award winners by reading at least five books in the program. Other incentives in completing the reading schedule include receiving beads that are used to make bookmarks, a cover design contest, a scavenger hunt, partaking in the pizza party, and last but not least, being invited to a sleepover in the library.
Master of ceremony for this eagerly awaited evening of fun and surprises was the library’s own Jeanne McCullough, children’s service manager. Her engagement with the children was evident in every word and facial expression as she prepared to make the big announcement. But first there was the raffle.
On the evening of the Quahog Awards, the children who took part in one of the reading program activities had their name placed in a container. Then on the big award reveal night, one name is selected from each container and the happy winner gets to select a prize from a group of prizes sure to delight a child in Grades 3 through 6 – prizes like “Slime Maker” for instance.
After the raffle concluded, the excitement intensified as McCullough prepared to announce which books would become Quahog Award winners. Each book receiving the most votes by the children would have a decal placed on the front cover, similar to the Caldecott awards.
During the winter season of the program, the young readers also participated in discussion groups much like adult book clubs where they discuss what they are reading and were encouraged to keep a journal of their reading activities.
The readers voted on five books from four groups with one book from each category receiving the award. Before each announcement, McCullough asked for a drum roll. The children pounded on the tables for all they were worth, vibrating the air to a fever’s pitch as McCullough passed her hand over the titles before landing on the winner. Delightful roars and applause followed each announcement.
At the end of the celebration, McCullough told the children, “I’m so proud of you.” She told the audience, “You challenged yourself…. This was something you didn’t need to do … but you did it!” She said that 107 children had read 650 books, “…That’s a ton of books.”
McCullough also explained to the children that the Friends of the Mattapoisett Library played an integral part in the reading program, buying the prizes, pizza, and helping to host the sleepover party. She told them that the next time they came to a library book sale to make sure and introduce themselves to a “Friends” member and thank them.
As if on cue, Ellen Flynn, a long time Friends member, arrived and received a rousing applause.
But the Quahog Award finale isn’t the end of reading fun at the library – perish the thought. The summer reading program begins with sign-ups on June 12.
To join the summer program, you may visit www.mattapoisettlibrary.org or stop by the children’s department where there’s always something cool going on, and you can also find out which books are members of the awesome Quahog Book Awards.
By Marilou Newell