By Christine Sampson
The children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time” begins on a dark and stormy night, but the John Jermain Memorial Library’s newest program, dubbed “Sag Harbor Reads,” began last week on a much more cheerful note.
The Hilaria and Alec Baldwin Foundation provided the library with a $5,000 grant in the form of a gift certificate to BookHampton in East Hampton, which allowed the library to purchase 750 copies of the children’s classic “A Wrinkle in Time” to give out to community members for free. The library began handing them out on June 30 and through Wednesday has given out 102 English-language copies and 25 Spanish-language copies. It is also available for e-readers and in audio format via the library’s regular and digital collections.
Library director Catherine Creedon thanked the Baldwins, who have a history of supporting libraries in the region. The grant was one of five the Baldwins provided to local libraries.
Ms. Creedon said the hope is that everyone in Sag Harbor will be reading the same book at the same time, thereby promoting literacy, dialogue and unity in the village.
“I’m really excited about it because it’s a cross-generational program,” she said. “A lot of times we focus on a single area — English as a second language, adults, teens, children — but this is a program that crosses groups and generations to bring the entire community together with a shared experience.”
Sag Harbor Reads is based on a program that began in Seattle, Washington, in 1998 at the Seattle Public Library’s Washington Center for the Book. According to the Library of Congress, libraries in more than 400 cities and towns across the U.S. have run similar programs.
Mireille Sturmann, JJML’s teen services librarian, who played a large role in bringing the program to the library, visited the Sag Harbor Elementary School to talk about the program before school ended in June. She said she asked the students what would happen if everyone in Sag Harbor read the same book at the same time.
“A little boy raised his hand and said, ‘They would talk to each other about the book,’” Ms. Sturmann said. “I said, ‘That is the right answer.’”
Ms. Creedon said the program has a sentimental feel to it since the library’s late children’s librarian, Susann Farrell, had a hand in selecting “A Wrinkle in Time” for the program before she died in May.
Wonda Miller, JJML’s head of outreach and community services, said Sag Harbor residents of all ages are getting excited about reading “A Wrinkle in Time.”
“A lot of adults are very nostalgic about it,” she said. “They’ll talk about a memory they had reading it, and now they get to share the story with younger members of their family.”
Kathleen Comber, a librarian trainee at JJML, recalled her experience with the book.
“I think I was 20 years old,” she said. “I listened to the audio book on a road trip my sisters and I were taking, and it was a lot of fun. It started a tradition my sisters and I have, which is to read books out loud to each other. It’s easy to share a movie, but so nice to share a book and react to it as a family. That’s something I hope the community has fun with.”
Jeanette Wagner, a library patron who has been a significant donor for JJML, said the book “transports you to a magic place where your imagination begins to form.”
“It delights and stirs your heart and inspires you in a way no other book did for me, and has for over seventy years,” she said. “I give it — and ‘The Thirteen Clocks’ — to the newborn babies of my friends for their first gift to start their personal library, to be sure it gets there for when they are read to and when they can read them themselves.”
Asked how she’ll know Sag Harbor Reads achieves its goals, Ms. Creedon said, “If for one child it affects the trajectory of their life, or if for an adult they remember the all-encompassing joy of reading a children’s book, then I’ll feel it was a success.”
“Sag Harbor Reads” Events (advance registration required)
- A Wrinkle in Slime Sunday, July 9, 2:30 p.m. Science-themed event where kids will make non-Newtonian slime.
- Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them Friday, July 21, 5 p.m. The adult book club will discuss the book at its monthly meeting at Bay Burger.
- Can You Build a Tesseract? Sunday, July 30, 2:30 p.m. A hands-on geometric building challenge using everyday materials.
- Escape Room Challenge Friday, August 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Work together to solve riddles, decipher clues and escape “It,” a phenomenon from the book. Two difficulty levels available.
- Trivia Night and Wrap-Up Party Monday, August 28, 4 to 7 p.m. An all-ages trivia night and pizza party will conclude the program.
Summer Reading in Sag Harbor
The John Jermain Memorial Library has adopted the theme of “Build a Better World” for its three distinct summer reading programs, designed for children, teens and adults.
The teen program is for children entering grades six through 12 in school. For every book they read, teens will have a brief chat about the book with a librarian, and will choose a prize: a voucher for a free Grindstone donut, one for a free slice of pizza at Conca d’Oro, or a raffle ticket to enter a contest for grand prizes. Teens will also receive tote bags and choose books to keep for themselves.
A program for younger children will provide them with tote bags they can color and use to carry their books. Children will set specific reading goals and track their progress, and will earn prizes and books to keep along the way. Those who reach their goal will receive a medal and a certificate. A party featuring Goat on a Boat Puppet Theater will wrap up the program in August.
The adult program has a “Bingo” structure. Squares on a Bingo-style board include “read a classic,” “read a book about a person who inspires you,” “read a book that teaches you a skill,” and more. Books will yield raffle tickets for a prize drawing in late August.
Sign-ups for the reading programs run through August 4. Audio books count toward the program. Reading runs through August 20. Stop by the library to sign up and pick up tote bags, Bingo pages and, of course, books to read. For more information, visit johnjermain.org.