From a Grammy-nominated children's entertainer to silly clowns, plus some tricky dogs and reptiles thrown in for good measure, Pasco libraries are offering a full schedule of musical and magical performances this summer. And the admission price for these free shows can be found in the joys of reading.
Throughout the summer, the seven branches of the Pasco County Library System will offer three summer reading programs for kids from toddlers to teenagers, all featuring performances.
The programs kicked off last week at several branches, with performers ranging from clowns to magicians to Star Wars re-enactors and musicians staging shows.
The rest of the summer offers more events:
Singer/recording artist Shana Banana will perform June 26 at Hugh Embry Branch Library in Dade City, as part of the Dig Into Reading Summer Reading Club for toddlers and preschoolers.
"She's a Grammy-nominated artist who is very popular with kids," said Paul Stonebridge, teen services manager of the library system.
The Earthlings Electric Washboard Band will perform June 19 for preschool readers at the Hugh Embry Branch. Silly Sam the Music Man will perform Aug. 1 at the Hudson Regional Library's final summer reading club party. This Tampa-based performer offers music, lessons and games.
For elementary-aged readers, on July 24, Jerry Bickel's Bits 'N Pieces Puppet Theater will perform at the Hugh Embry Branch.
Musically speaking, in shows geared toward grades kindergarten through 5, Giving Tree Music teaches students to "talk" through drums. They will play Aug. 9 at Hudson Regional Library's final party.
And four winners of the library system's Battle of the Bands competition will perform July 12 at the Land O'Lakes branch's Get Loud Concert.
On June 12, We Dig Pigeons: Pigeons Rock! will be presented at the Teen Summer Reading Program — Beneath the Surface! at Hugh Embry.
Also geared toward teens is the Uncover the Night Sky program with Dr. Kevin Manning, to take place June 19 at Hugh Embry Branch Library.
"Dr. Manning is a cool astrophysics expert who can answer questions about anything that's up there," Stonebridge said.
"Our performers offer a mix of entertainment involving music, art and storytelling," said Stonebridge. "It's not just about getting kids to read, but about improving their quality of life."
For more information, call (727) 861-3040 or visit pascolibraries.org
New Port Richey
The New Port Richey Public Library also will be offering public performances as part of its seven-week Summer Reading Program. This year's theme is also "Dig Into Reading," with participants ages preschool to teen also digging in to free performances offered at the library.
Program participants will see the Tricky Dogs Show June 21 at the library.
"This is a perennial favorite," said Jessica Meredith, youth services librarian at the New Port Richey Public Library. "These are small dogs who perform cute tricks."
Guests will explore life down under at the June 26 Didgeridoo Down Under program.
"This is an Australian-themed show that explores that culture and also encourages library usage," Meredith said.
Storyteller Windell Campbell will spin his tales July 2 for library audiences. This Tampa teacher has shared his stories everywhere from the Tampa Museum of Art to the Florida Aquarium, and is a storyteller for the Humanities Council of Florida.
Out of My Hands Juggling and Magic will perform July 12 at the library; and the Timeless Tales theater troupe will perform a live action production of Cinderella July 17.
"Kids love the costumes and the humor of these productions," Meredith said.
Kids who love all things crawly and exotic can explore the World of Reptiles show July 23. And Aug. 2, the End of Summer Party will feature guests the Balloon Guy and Face Painter Phyllis.