Amy Cunningham
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More than 400 students and  parents from Moonlight Elementary School turned the Gardner branch of the Johnson County Public Library into a pizza parlor Tuesday evening.

Caleb Taylor, Moonlight Elementary 5th grader, plays bingo during the event. Staff photo by Amy Cunningham

During a pizza-themed reading event the students and their families were introduced to all the tools the library has to offer in an effort to encourage families to utilize the library’s resources over the summer break.
“A lot of kids don’t keep up on their reading during the summer, this is a way to encourage them to read.  We want to get kids excited about summer library and to make sure they know where the library is and that they have a library card,” said Marci Blum, Moonlight Elementary media specialist.
The idea to host a get-to-know-you event at the Gardner Library came after talking with students.  Blum said that many of her students weren’t aware that a library existed in town. She also explained that kids who attend Moonlight live too far from the library to safely walk on their own.
“For them to get to know where it’s at, and their parents as well, if we can get them through the door – once they’re through the door they’re excited. If we can get them here initially I think they’ll ask their parents to bring them back,” she said.
Blum believes this is the first time any of the area elementary schools have partnered with the library to host such an event – a tour of the library and it’s services. Staffed by library employees, Moonlight teachers and volunteers from the community, children were treated to games, crafts and stories read by local celebrities.  Mayor Dave Drovetta, Fire Chief Kevin Ritter,
Councilman Brian Broxterman and a host of other public officials took turns reading their favorite stories to eager listeners.
Parent Garry Hall took advantage of the party and brought his three sons out to show them around the library.  He said he thought his family would return throughout the summer to enjoy the many programs the library has to offer.
“They’re just at the age where they’re getting interested in reading,” Hall said as he gestured to his kindergarten twins.  “They love to be read to and they love books.  I knew they would enjoy tonight because of the volunteers they had reading to the kids.”
Hall and his children were among many who applied for a library card Tuesday night. He said he

Mayor Dave Drovetta reads to Moonlight Elementary students during at Tuesday evening’s library event.

thinks his family will get plenty of use out of them over the summer months.
For their part the Hall twins and their little brother proudly showed off the bookmarks they made in one of the crafting areas.  The boys said they were happy their dad brought them out and excited to use the new bookmarks when they check out their first library books.
“Our teacher told us about (tonight) and we thinked about it and decided to come,” explained six-year-old Josh Hall.
Added Josh’s twin Jesse as he waved his bookmark in the air, “They were having pizza and the library has books and toys and even comics.  I love pizza and comics,” he said.
The grade level with the largest attendance at the event received a pizza party on Wednesday.
To view upcoming programs at any of the Johnson County Library branches go to or call 913-826-4600