Your Local News | Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Allentown News

Ready to fly: Allentown's youngest get the summer reading bug

Christine Sexton
Squeals of delight from children as painted lady butterflies take flight Saturday on the front lawn of the Allentown Public Library. Youth Services Director Sheri Miltenberger released the newly emerged winged beauties to kick off the library's summer reading program.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Up, up and away!

Aspiring bookworms gathered around the white netted enclosures on the front lawn of the Allentown Public Library Saturday as fragile, newly emerged butterflies took their first flight.

“We thought it would be a fun thing to track this spring and share with our community,” said Sheri Miltenberger, head of the library's youth services department.

What seemed like an eternity ended seconds later when the first timid butterfly popped up and out of the unzippered opening, followed at times, slowly and unsurely, by the rest.

“We ordered a butterfly kit and received the caterpillars on May 13. We followed the directions and put them in their individual containers, where they lived for a few weeks before starting to form their chrysalises.”

Christine Sexton
Christian Scott, 5, of Allentown, marvels at the array of painted lady butterflies moments before they are released outside the Allentown Public Library Saturday.

Library staff then transported those into the delicate enclosures and watched them emerge, eventually moving them to the front desk so the public could observe them until the release.

“We had a pretty good survival rate, we think,” said Miltenberger in an email Friday. “If we do it again, I'd like to get two kits at separate times and stagger them, so kids could watch different aspects of the life cycle at the same time.”

The library's summer reading program runs June 8 through Aug. 3 with lots of fun programs planned throughout the summer.

“We have guests including the Mayor, the Fire Chief, Miss Lehigh Valley, a Princess, meLVin the Phantoms ice hockey team mascot, Allentown School District administrators and more for story times," Miltenberger said.

June's program theme is 'Science is for the Birds' supplemented by Bird Town PA, an all-volunteer organization that provides a network and resources for municipal leaders and residents to create healthier and ecological spaces where birds can strive.

Barbara Beck, Richland Township's Bird Town leader, spoke with the children and families who attended about citizen science and how everyone can help protect and build habitats for wildlife.

The children also had the chance to hear and then identify bird calls, play a choose-your-own-adventure game centered around a bird's journey during migration, and they also decorated bird masks and acted like birds going on a migration journey, visiting stations set up around the library!

"We encourage children to read to themselves or with their loved ones through a tracking system that offers incentives and prize drawings,"
Sheri Miltenberger

Other special events coming up include the Lehigh Valley Zoo, Talewise, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Lehigh Valley Conservation District, Bird Town programs, therapy dogs, the Penn State Master Gardeners for an Outdoor Club and a Penn Stat nutritionist for a cooking series.

In-house programs include Music Monday, Tinkering Tuesdays, and Art Exploration on Fridays. A schedule of events is on the library's website, www.allentownpl.org. Registration can be done there as well, as some events fill up quickly.

“We encourage children to read to themselves or with their loved ones through a tracking system that offers incentives and prize drawings," said Miltenberger.

Summer reading club participants can sign up in person or through the website. Prizes include baskets with goodies and tickets to the PA Shakespeare Festival and the Crayola Factory.

There are lots of things for teens and adults at the library as well, all year long.