Grace Episcopal Church will host its inaugural summer reading program from 10:30-11 a.m. on Mondays from June 17 to Aug. 12 at 303 S. King St. in Morganton in the parish hall. No session will be held on July 1, due to Independence Day weekend.

Brittany Deal, director of children and youth ministries at GEC, came up with the idea to offer the program after attending the library’s summer story time with her daughter.

“I love the library’s summer story time,” Deal said. “I know the spots fill up because registration is required, so not everyone gets to participate.”

Deal has been a member of the church for three and a half years, and in her current position for just under a year. Since she has held the director position, the children and youth ministry has grown, said the Rev. Marshall Jolly, rector at GEC.

“One of Brittany’s passions and priorities is education,” Jolly said. “In my view, education is also at the heart of the ministry of the church. When she proposed the idea of opening our campus for a summer reading program, I jumped at the idea.”

The reading materials selected will interest toddlers through the second grade, but all children are invited to attend. After story time, the children will make a craft that corresponds to the book.

Several community leaders, as well as others, will participate in reading their favorite children’s classics and contemporary stories to the children:

» Brittany Deal, director of children and youth ministry at GEC, “Summer is Here”

» The Rev. Marshall Jolly, rector of GEC, “Where the Wild Things Are”

» Angela Shores, owners of Adventure Bound Books, “Last Stop on Market Street”

» Dr. David Burleson, executive director of Burke United Christian Ministries, “My Great Aunt Arizona”

» The Rt. Rev. Jose McLoughlin, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, “Ferdinand”

» Karen Auton, director of elementary schools for Burke County Public Schools, “After the Fall”

» Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant, “The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes”

“I selected ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’” Jolly said. “It is a personal favorite of mine. It is at once a fun, fantasy tale that captures children’s imaginations, and it also has a lot to teach us about grace. The story begins with Max being sent to his room without his supper for misbehaving, and after his adventure is over, he returns to his room to find that a hot meal was waiting on him in the end.”

Deal wanted to open the doors of the church to offer this program to the community.

“We have this building that makes a great space to welcome families in to enjoy socializing and a story.” Deal said. “Add to it a chance to have different community leaders come and connect with the kids of our community, and it just seemed like a win-win.”

No registration is required. This summer program is scheduled on different days and times than the public library’s story time so that people can attend both.

“Our biggest hope, as a church, is to offer a safe space for families to engage with their children, to help foster a love of reading and have children and families connect with community leaders,” Deal said. “I would love to offer this program again in the future. I have so many other interested readers.”

For more information, call Brittany Deal at 336-813-2916, or email at kids@gracemorganton.org.

Barbara Jolly-Deakle is a News Herald correspondent and a member of the Morganton Writers’ Group. She can be reached at BabbyWrites@CompasCable.net.

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