A pep rally held Thursday to kick off summer reading at the Mount Airy Public Library was a fitting way to launch a season full of wellness, fitness and sports-themed programming.
With a marching band, professional cheerleaders and prizes, it also tied into one of reading’s finest features: fun.
“Especially during summer, reading should be fun,” said Pat Gwyn, branch librarian. “As long as they’re reading something that interests them, that appeals to them, it benefits them.”
About 150 children and adults gathered in the Blackmon Amphitheater for the pep rally, which began with more than 80 kids clamoring for tickets to win books.
After the Mount Airy High School band played a tune, organizer Angela Llewellyn took the stage and introduced the key component to any pep rally, cheerleaders.
The two Carolina Panthers TopCats cheerleaders spoke briefly about their background.
Kaitlin, a special education teacher, and Annalise, a dance teacher, later indicated their contract prevented them from sharing their last names.
When asked to share their favorite books with the audience, Kaitlin said she enjoys books by Nicholas Sparks.
“I’m a fan of some Dr. Seuss books,” said Annalise, who also spoke of her experience cheering at Superbowl 50.
“It felt like a dream, of course,” she said. “I’m hoping we go back again.”
The cheerleaders were a big draw for the event, and signed plenty of autographs on free posters after the rally.
Pam Alderman said of her 5-year-old great-niece Chloe Mayes, “I got her out of daycare today because she just had to see the Panther cheerleaders.”
Llewellyn also did some cheerleading of her own.
“Read lots this summer,” she said to the audience, noting that reading helps improve test scores. “The more you read, the better.”
Kids enrolled in the summer reading program log the book titles and minutes spent reading on a form to be submitted at the end of the season.
That, and associated events including sports-themed movie series, plays and storytelling, help keep kids engaged with reading while they’re out of school.
“It’s important they don’t lose ground,” Llewellyn said.
Ten-year-old Savannah Allen said she had already logged her first summer book, “Hatchet,” a 1987 Newbery Honor-winning young-adult wilderness survival novel written by Gary Paulson.
“I love to read,” and enjoyed the pep rally, she said. “I really did.”
Allen was excited about her autographed poster from the TopCat cheerleaders.
“I’m probably going to hang it up in my room and look at it every night,” she said.
The Woman’s League of Mount Airy provided and served drinks and popcorn, and representatives from the Mount Airy Police Department grilled up hot dogs for the group.
Lewellyn thanked those organizations as well as the Mount Airy High School band and leader and two school librarians Tonya Fletcher, of Franklin Elementary, and Robin Simmons, of Cedar Ridge Elementary, who showed up with pompoms in hand.
“I’m very appreciative of everyone who helped me out today, very, very grateful,” Llewellyn said, leaning into another sports related analogy.
“We’re teammates,” she said. “We have to work together to keep the kids reading.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.