GWINN - Aidan Winkler, 7, intently colored, concentrating on a fish, making it a bright clear blue.
"I like to fish," he said. "But I don't like to eat them."
Aidan and his sisters, Therese, 5, and Gwendolyn, 2, were coloring while waiting for the party to get started. The party was a celebration of the Forsyth Township Public Library's Summer Reading Program, thrown by the township's senior citizens.
Gwen Chapman serves up pizza to hungry young readers during a party at the Forsyth Township Community Center. The community’s senior citizens and library board threw a celebration for the youngsters who participated in a summer reading program this year. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Sisters Kadie and Shanna LaRock, foreground, are served pizza by Chapman, Chris Adams and Edna Hocking, seniors and library board members. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Kadie and Shanna enjoy their pizza. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
"It's my vision to connect seniors with youth," said Julie Shaw, Forsyth's senior citizen center director. "I am an advocate of intergenerational programs. Seniors can be a positive force for lighting the way for kids' futures."
For Aidan, his summer reading was fun.
"My favorites were 'Sheep Take a Jog' and 'Sheep in a Jeep'," he said, his face bright with a smile.
Aidan's mother, Danyl Winkler - who has nine kids ages 20 years to 4 weeks - said reading is a great activity for her children.
"Reading means some quiet time," she said with a smile. "My kids like books a lot."
As Aidan and the other children colored, preparations were being made all around them.
The coloring sheets on the tables at the center were just the start: The seniors had also ordered pizzas for the kids in celebration of their reading efforts this summer.
Some 33 children had signed up for the pizza party, but the crowd ended up being near 50. And that was pleasing to librarian Kathy Holman.
"Children come in to the library the second week of June and get a free book plus a book log," she said. "They read the books on their own and write in a book log, which their parents sign. They bring the logs back in and get a prize. Children who complete the program get a special certificate and this pizza party."
Members of the Forsyth Township Library Board baked treats for dessert and helped serve the food to the children and parents who attended the party.
"Reading is obviously very, very important to our library board," said Donna Adams, that group's president. "There are three retired teachers on the board. It's important to us to encourage some kind of reward for these kids who read in the summer. I am a big believer in the idea that we adults get paid for our work, so these children should, too. It's just a different pay scale: Pizza."
The summer reading program in Forsyth Township was for preschoolers through eighth graders. Two readers going into eighth grade who participated in the program were at the party.
"'Dear Pen Pal' was my favorite book this summer," said Ellen Borrett.
"I liked 'Dragon's Tear'," said her best friend, Abby Cairns.
In addition to the pizza party - which included ice cream, as well - the young summer readers were invited to play bingo with the seniors and library board members in attendance. But this was a different kind of bingo, using creatures instead of numbers, and each child kept the bag of pennies he or she was given to play the game.
Shanna LaRock was the first one to get a bingo, winning a cash prize. Then as the game progressed, other winners earned new books.
"It went better than I even hoped," Shaw said as the party wrapped up. "I think it was a fun afternoon for everyone."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.