The Fourth of July is looming large on the horizon, the traditional half way mark of summer. I’ve got a couple questions. Have you had an opportunity to enjoy some time off? And where did June go?

It seems like we were just getting ready for Memorial Day, and here we are in the midst of summer. Nothing to be done but work to enjoy the time we are given.

It’s traditionally about this time of year that parents can begin hearing the dreaded “I’m bored” and “What is there to do?” statements from school age children. Ah, to be a child in the summer knowing what I do now. There would be no “I’m bored” from me.

The tightly regimented schedules of sports, school, church and club activities generally carry families through June and into July. And with schools starting classes before Labor Day, the window of freedom begins to close sooner than many would like to see happen.

Libraries are in the midst of summer reading programs. Libraries are wondrous places. You can read a book, get a movie, read a magazine, hear a story and even browse on the internet – all for free!

As a child, I would spend many hours at the library. My mother was a voracious and prolific reader and made several trips a week to the library. It was not unusual for my mother to get through a novel in just over a day. The number of our library card was 91. As a child, I imagined this was a secret code used to unlock the various adventures contained in the pages of the books.

I was a child, after all.

I believe learning to read is one of the greatest accomplishments we attain in our education. Many, if not all, other activities in life hinge on our ability to read and write. Without these two skills, our future learning and earning capabilities are severely limited.

That’s one of the reasons that libraries are so important.

During the summer, libraries work in conjunction with schools to encourage continued reading, as well as provide a safe place for children to gather. Advocates of learning of all types, libraries are offering STEAM programs. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. You can now go to a library and learn the basics of the new language – computer coding.

Students and readers are playing with toys that teach them basics of computer coding and computational thinking. Computational thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating a problem and expressing its solution(s) in such a way that a computer—human or machine—can effectively carry out.

Yes, it’s machine talk, and lots of people are learning it. There are even books for children as young as three to learn the concept.

My late father Arved, (aka “The Chief”) was a disciple of computational thinking, even if it wasn’t a “thing” when he was alive. As a mechanic, he worked with machines all day. He told me “machines are stupid – they only know what you tell them.”

In his charming way, he was a devotee of computational thinking. If he were alive today, I imagine he would claim to have invented it.

If you can’t get away for a vacation, escape by using the library.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading; I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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