SMITHSBURG — Small groups of children gathered Saturday morning at tables fashioning Japanese origami and crafting Mexican tissue-paper flowers.
Their excited chatter was accompanied by the jingling of African percussion instruments that other children made of sticks, wire and bottle caps nearby.
It was a multicultural celebration of "One World, Many Stories," the theme of the 2011 Summer Reading Club at Smithsburg Library in Veterans Park.
Ashley Hutson, Smithsburg Library branch manager, said about 30 children and their parents attended.
"June 1st started the summer reading program," Hutson said. "We have a party to generate interest and excitement about the club and to get people to sign up."
Hutson said most branches of the Washington County Free Library have similar celebrations. The library offers programs for people from "birth to adult," she said.
Children who participate receive game boards that are organized into sections of activities to be completed over a six-week period. When the requirements of each section are fulfilled, children take their boards to the library and receive prizes such as stickers and bookmarks.
At the end of the season, Hutson said, children who have completed the program will receive tickets to a Hagerstown Suns game on Aug. 15. One reading club participant will be invited to throw out the first pitch.
Kim Palm, 35, of Hagerstown, and her husband, George, 31, signed up their sons — George, 5; Daniel, 3; and Gabriel, 2 — for the children's clubs. She said each of them enjoys reading, and she likes to encourage them. They've participated in the clubs for several years, she said.
"I want them to be comfortable with the library, to think, 'Hey, the library is a good place. We come here, read books and sometimes we get prizes,'" Palm said. "I want to do anything I can to keep them liking reading because that opens up everything to you."
George Palm, who just finished kindergarten at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, said he especially likes to read nonfiction books about animals — giraffes in particular. George also is looking forward to reading more books by author Eric Carle, he said.
"He writes books that make beautiful when you just flip the page," George said.
He was excited to find a Chick-Fil-A coupon in his registration packet.
"That's a big perk," Kim Palm said. "We'll probably go today."