Tag Archives: summer reading extravaganza

A Summer Extravaganza of Heroic Proportions

SR banner

Here we are again at the start of another summer of reading. Where did the past year go? Hopefully yours was spent reading, learning about and investigating this wonderful world of ours through books, library related programming and the ton of free resources at your local public library. But if for some bizarre reason that didn’t happen, there’s no better time than the present to dive into all that your library has to offer.

This Sunday, June 7th, is the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s 15th Annual Summer Reading Extravaganza!!  Library-loving reading-enthusiastic mobs will gather out front of the Main Library in Oakland to enjoy a variety of activities that the library staff and volunteers have planned for this exciting event. The fantastically fun theme for this year’s summer reading is “Every Hero Has a Story.” We’re hoping that you, your family and friends will learn about, meet or become your own heroes this summer with the help of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

What to look forward to this Sunday, beyond meeting some of your library staff, volunteer and Eleventh Stack blog heroes?! There will be a variety of tents and activities, including but not limited to:

  • The CLP Music Tent, where you can make your own instrument with the superheroes of The LABS
  • The CLP Tech Tent with robotics, 3D printing and iPads for display and hands-on experimentation
  • The CLP Readers Tent, where there will be Reading Games for all ages
  • The CLP Wellness Tent with Gardening Thyme planting activities and cooking demonstrations
  • The CLP Languages Tent, where you can listen to read-alouds of children’s books in non-English languages or try out a few simple phrases in a new language

We’ll also have some of the favorite regular features of our Extravaganza:

  • Library Card Sign-Up
  • HUGE Used Book Sale

And we will be joined by some of our great community partners: Eat’n Park, Balloonatic Fringe, Animal Friends, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Puppet Works, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Timbeleza, Geeks Danz, Larry Berger of SLB Radio Productions, Inc., WYEP and Citiparks.

Of course it wouldn’t be a summer celebration without food and drinks, would it? We’ll have snacks on hand, provided by Giant Eagle, and Franktuary, Oh My Grill, Polish Pierogi, and Rob’s Awesome Italian Ice food trucks will be there!

Be a Summer Reading Hero and stop by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh–Main in Oakland this Sunday from 12-5.


-Maria J (whose summer reading goal is to get away from the historical fiction and non-fiction she tends to read, and curl up with some cozy mysteries)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Summer Readin’, Had Me a Blast

Summer Reading Sign-up

Is it me, or didn’t we just kick off the 2014 Summer Reading program at Extravaganza like, five minutes ago?

(Insert your favorite cliché here about summer going faster every year.)

I was one of those kids who lived for my library’s Summer Reading Program back in the day. As a full-fledged grown-up (on most days), I love that CLP has a Summer Reading program for adults.

You know that I signed up the second the link went live on the CLP website. (If you haven’t signed up,  you still have time … but not much.  Summer Reading ends on August 9. There are pretty good prizes to be had, too.)

As of today, I’ve read 16 books for Summer Reading and am in the middle of my 17th and 18th books (the Man Booker Prize nominated History of the Rain by Niall Williams and Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver on audio, respectively).  I’d like to get to 20 by the weekend, but if this is as good as it gets, I’m perfectly fine with that too.

I thought it would be fun to do a Best Of list, Hollywood award show style, for my Summer Reading books of 2014:

Summer Reading Book That Made Me Cry: Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, by Paul Monette

Genre That I Couldn’t Get Enough Of This Summer: Memoir, with poetry and fiction coming in second and third.

Summer Reading Book That I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Read Before Now: The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

Book That I Am Most Likely to Re-Read: Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, by Beth Kephart

Shortest Book Read This Summer: Woolgathering, by Patti Smith

Favorite Book Read From the CLP-Main Bestseller Table: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian

New Author Who I Read For the First Time and Who I Love: A tie between Paul Monette and Sylvia Plath

Best Nonfiction Book That Taught Me Something This Summer: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

Summer Reading Book That Made Me Wish I Was On Vacation When I Wasn’t: French Lessons, by Ellen Sussman

Did you participate in Summer Reading?  What were your favorite books that you read?  Feel free to play along with these categories at home, at work, or on your own blog.  (And share it with us, because if there’s anything we love here at Eleventh Stack, it’s lists of books and seeing other people’s lists.)

~ Melissa F.





Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Countdown to Extravaganza!

Summer reading! Two of my favorite words, smashed together like chocolate and marshmallows on a s’more.

2014 Summer Reading Extravaganza at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Click through for the official schedule of Extravaganza events.

If you’re feeling the summer magic too, why not join us in Oakland on Sunday, June 8th, for round 14 of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Summer Reading Extravaganza? Between 12 and 5 p.m., you can Fizz, Boom, Read your way into a good time, with a slate of activities for kids of all ages and their adult accomplices.

Highlights include puppet shows, adventures in 3D printing, DIY Smiley Cookies (thanks Eat’n Park!), the best used book sale in  Pittsburgh, and music, music, music. As ever, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for one of our summer reading programs, with a chance to win fabulous prizes. And when I say “fabulous,” we’re talking “Kindle Fire fabulous” for grownups.

Click to learn more about Adult Summer Reading and your chance to win a Kindle Fire.

Click to learn more about Adult Summer Reading and your chance to win a Kindle Fire.

Kids in the Readers group (generally K-5) will also have a shot at winning a Kindle Fire, while their “Read to Me” siblings (younger children who aren’t reading on their own yet) are eligible for the grand prize of a LeapPad 2 Custom Edition. Other participation perks and prizes are available–ask a children’s librarian near you for more information.

Kids Summer Reading Program Info

Click through for more details on the Kids Summer Reading program.

Teens, we didn’t forget about you: each Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location has chosen its own grand prize, so make sure to visit your library for more information. Don’t forget to ask about teen summer reading fine forgiveness, too.

Teen Summer Reading info

For summer reading guidelines, info on teen fine forgiveness and more, click here.

There’s less than a week to wait for the family-friendly party of the summer, so make sure you clear your calendar, slather on some sunscreen and join us on the Library lawn. No need to register or pre-register for the party: just bring the family, your sense of adventure and a really big bag for all the books you’ll be taking home (er, we hope).

–Leigh Anne


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Scenes From Lucky Thirteen: Summer Reading Is Here!

Today at Eleventh Stack we’re happy to bring you a special report from the Communication and Creative Services team. Many thanks to Trina, Renée, Suzanne and Stephen,  as well as photographers Marc Soracco and Bridgett Kay.

After a long winter of anticipation…Summer Reading is finally here! This past Sunday, June 9, a few thousand of our closest friends joined us to “Dig Into Reading” at our 13th annual Summer Reading Extravaganza. Just like baseball games, picnics and visits to the local amusement park, Extravaganza (and summer reading) are part of the summer tradition for thousands of area kids, teens and adults.

Thirteen must be our lucky number–the weather was simply perfect for an outdoor festival, especially one that celebrates the importance of reading and learning.

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 062

The Library Card mascot may have confused this little guy…

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 102

…but the mascot also welcomed more than 4,000 people gathered on the grounds of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh–Main in Oakland to enjoy live music and hands-on activities, learn something new and enthusiastically jump into a summer of reading.

Summer Reading Extravaganza

More than 75 of Pittsburgh’s coolest organizations came to the event to share enriching activities including arts & craft projects.

Summer Reading Extravaganza

Meanwhile, mentors from The Labs @ CLP showed off cool technologies–burping plant leaves anyone?

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 290

Experimenting with musical instruments–like maracas–is a great way to learn rhythm and coordination.

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 070

And even more fun is creating your own instrument. Did you know you can make a harmonica from Popsicle sticks, rubber bands and straws?


The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium brought a very friendly snake–and children learned to touch with just one finger or two.

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 178

Did you know the Pirate Parrot is a summer reader? He rode all the way from PNC Park on his motorcycle to visit the library!

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 227

You can’t “dig into reading” without a few earthworms!

Summer Reading Extravaganza

Building imaginations is all part of the fun!

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 446

This dog sure seemed to enjoy his day at the library!

Summer Reading Extravaganza

This budding musician played the ukulele at the CLP-Music Department’s Hum and Strum Tent.

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 472

While others made music on stage with professional percussionists!

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 384

Even with so much noise and activity, a dedicated reader can always find a quiet spot…

Summer Reading Extravaganza

…or a unique perch to read–for hours!


The Library is a cool spot to check out eResources. And for those preferring to stay outside, librarians demonstrated how to download their next read on portable devices. Today’s Library has books and so much more!

BKP_CLPExtravaganza_060913 192

This dapper-looking gentleman may have come inside to check his e-mail (or maybe he was creating a story with My Storymaker!).

Summer Reading Extravaganza

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s 13th Annual Extravaganza was a great day for the Library and the Pittsburgh community. We are so grateful to our sponsors and partner organizations, and we can’t wait to see you again at Extravaganza next year!

Summer Reading Extravaganza

Are you a summer reader? It’s not too late. Stop by your neighborhood library to sign up and keep learning and reading over the summer!


Filed under Uncategorized

Extravaganza’s Almost Here – Can You Dig It?

Late spring is when the phone calls and chat questions start trickling in, first one by one, then in a chorus: “You’re having the summer reading thing again this year, right?” “My kids LOVE Extravaganza–please say you’re doing it.” “Will there be another festival on the library lawn?” Yes, yes, and yes!


This year is lucky number 13 for the Summer Reading Extravaganza, which is brought to you by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and a host of other sponsors, including EQTthe Allegheny Regional Asset District, and Giant Eagle (click here and scroll down to see just how many community groups pitch in to help us make this event a stellar one). The celebration of reading will take place:

Sunday, June 9, 2013
12 – 5 pm
On the lawn at
CLP – Main (Oakland)

and will include fun activities for the whole family, including:

Once again the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will offer summer reading programs for kids




and adults.


But remember…

boromirSRE boromirSREyou’ll need to register in order to enjoy the festivities to the fullest.*

However you choose to participate, we hope you’ll make the 2013 Summer Reading Extravaganza, and the 2013 Summer Reading Program, a part of your warm-weather fun again this year.  Grab your library card and dig deeply into the wonder and magic of a day at the library, followed by a summer of reading bliss.

–Leigh Anne

*On-site registration will be available the day of the event

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Where Were You…?

…On Sunday, June 10th?

Hopefully, you were on the front lawn of the Main Library participating in the 12th Annual Summer Reading Extravaganza. This year was out of this world!! We had beautiful weather and lots of smiling faces. It was certainly a great day for the Library. Over 5,000 people registered for the event, there were over 80 groups that participated, 83 people signed up for library cards (that’s 1 card made every 3.5 minutes!), and 427 items per hour were checked out at the Customer Services desk during the Extravaganza!

Alice and the White Rabbit entertain the crowd

To see exactly how much fun we all had, check out some amazing photos and a nice little story from a first time Extravaganza guest and volunteer photographer, Bridgett Kay.

Wishing String – Lots of people made a wish!

Of course, the main reason for having the annual Extravaganza is to celebrate the beginning of and to encourage people to participate in the Summer Reading programs. There’s one for every age group: children, teens and adults. There’s still plenty of time to join. The Summer Reading programs run thru mid-August.  Just registering for the programs and visiting your library even once gets you a great bag or other nifty prizes and qualifies you for giveaways, but the best part is the reading. Make sure your kids’ brains stay alert and active during the summer to retain knowledge from the school year. Take time as an adult to read for pleasure and find your stress levels reduced. Read together to interact and engage with each other. Reading during the summer is fun and important!

Storytime with the East End Food Co-op

The Library’s Summer Reading Extravaganza is a great reminder to the community about just how integral the Library wants to be to life here in Pittsburgh. I hope that you’ll join us for next year’s Extravaganza!

-Melissa M. (With more than a little help from Sara W.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What’s big and fun and read all over?


A poster showing the chorus girls of a 1900 extravaganza. Image from Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division, Wikimedia Commons.

And it’s coming to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland this Sunday, June 10, 2012.

Extravaganza’s official purpose is to promote summer reading programs. But whether or not you sign up for “Summer Reading” (we offer programs for every age group), there are many reasons to visit the Oakland Library between 12:00 and 5:00 PM this Sunday.

For the past eleven years, kids and adults, friends and families have gathered inside and outside the library on a June afternoon to celebrate the beginning of summer. This Sunday’s festivities will include lots of hands-on activities as well as entertainment—puppet shows, story tellers, and an enticing menu of musical offerings. I’d like to point you to one particular program, 2:30 – 3:30 PM inside the library. Come to the Quiet Reading Room (not so quiet today), get out of the sun, have a seat, and listen to the Riversong String Ensemble, from the Pittsburgh Mandolin Society.

The Riversong String Ensemble is six musicians, each of whom plays at least two different instruments. You will hear various combinations of fiddle, dulcimer, mandolin, mandola, mandocello, bass, guitar, tenor banjo, cello banjo, harmonica, and hurdy-gurdy. A YouTube channel provides a preview.

The leader of Riversong contacted the Music Department and asked if we’d be interested in assisting them put together a program that would highlight materials the library has to offer. She wrote, “For example, we could play a piece by John Dowland (16th century), and then tell the audience that, if they liked it, they can get copies of his works in your printed music section. Then we could play a piece by Gershwin, and tell the audience that they can hear more of his work in your audio music section.”

Librarians get excited by this kind of project. My colleague, Kirby, eagerly put together a long list of relevant printed music, recordings, and books.

I’ll be there Sunday, ready for the pluck, strum, plunk, pick, and twang.

By the way, as of April 18, I’m the new Head of the Music, Film & Audio Department. In a future post I’ll tell you more about myself and what the future might hold for MF&A.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


I’ll admit it – my attention span overheats at about 80 degrees.  I’ve abandoned my latest crochet project, I’m not quite ready to commit to a 700+page post-apocalyptic horror novel, and I don’t even think I can sustain a narrative long enough to write this blog post.  So instead, here is a random sampler of things that have made it onto my radar.

The Last Apprentice – Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, and his Mam’s always been special, too.  That’s why he’s been apprenticed to the local Spook, whose job it is to hunt down and deal with dark creatures.  One day, Thomas might just be the best Spook the County’s ever seen… if he can survive his training.  This series is in the children’s and teen collections, but appeals to the same broad range of ages as Harry Potter.

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen

Soon after the original story ended, vampires moved into the area and killed Gepetto.  Of course, nobody believed Pinocchio, so he took vengeance into his own hands, and became a vampire slayer. You see, to drive a stake through their hearts, all he had to do was lie…

Cats Are Weird: And More Observations by Jeffrey Brown

If cat things are your thing, you will thoroughly enjoy this graphic novel.  Then you’ll probably pass it around to all your friends who also like cat things.  You might even discuss it the next time you all get together.  Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Thank You Notes: 40 Handmade Ways To Show You’re Grateful by Jan Kelly

Sometimes, the inventory at the local drugstore fails to perfectly express your gratitude.  Consider designing a custom “Merci Bucket,” or  a thoughtful “Thanks A Latte” coffee card holder.

Ready, Set, Walk! Challenge

Once again, I’m participating in the neighborhood summer walking challenge.  You may be too late to get a free pedometer, but there’s a weekly drawing for all walkers, and a grand prize is awarded to whoever logs the most steps.

If you’re similarly distracted by the heat, why not drop by the Summer Reading Extravaganza this Sunday?  We’ll have plenty of activities and performances through which you can wander, outside as well as in the library (in case you find yourself needing a few minutes with the air conditioner and a cool beverage).


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hiding From Summer (But Not From Summer Reading)

Heat and I are not friends; ditto humidity.  With apologies to the beachgoers, picnickers and other outdoorsy folks, I think I’m just going to cut up some fresh fruit, whip up some cold drinks, and spend my summer inside, sprawled in front of a fan, reading.  If you’re inclined to copy my example, here are a few books you can sink your teeth into while you hide from the weather.


The Paris Wife, Paula McClain.  The waiting list for this novel is awfully long, but if you’re a fan of either literary fiction or tragic romance, you should place a hold now, because it’s definitely worth the wait.  McClain’s lush tale of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage brings 1920s Paris to life through the eyes of Hadley, a timid fearful woman whose life revolves around her soon-to-be famous husband.  The Hemingways’ fictionalized courtship, sojourn to the City of Lights, and subsequent break-up (due as much to incompatibility as to expatriate American morals) are both compelling and haunting.  If your heart doesn’t break just a little for Hadley by the end of the novel, you might want to make sure you haven’t died from heatstroke.

Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones.  A bigamist’s two daughters both live in Atlanta, but only one is aware that the other is her sister. Born only four months apart, but as different as night and day, Dana and Chaurisse both love their father.  Chaurisse, however, has never been told about Dana, while Dana knows all about Chaurisse.  In fact, Dana’s been spying on Chaurisse since she was a little girl, with her mother’s help; will the secrecy that’s dominated Dana’s life lead her to make irrevocable choices?  This is a darkly delicious meditation on the nature of deceit and desire, and how they can lead people down paths they never thought they’d take.  Crank up the fan while you turn the pages–this one’s a psychological scorcher.

Witch Child, Celia Rees.  Recapture the feeling of “school’s out for summer” by making a foray into teen fiction via this historical novel. The story unfolds via the diary of Mary, an English teen whose grandmother was executed for witchcraft, forcing Mary’s flight to the new world.  Matters don’t improve there, however, as the witch craze seizes New England, and anybody who doesn’t quite fit the proper social mold is accused of unnatural deeds…including our solitary, introverted heroine.  Will Mary survive and thrive in the colonies?  Or will she meet her fate at the hands of the Puritains? If you enjoy this story, you can then move on to Sorceress, the sequel, in which a contemporary teen finds and reads Mary’s journal.


When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present, Gail Collins. New York Times columnist Collins offers a breathtaking micro-history of the feminist movement that will appeal to readers looking for a balanced history amongst all the heated rhetoric. Readers under forty, especially, may find themselves alternately fascinated with and horrified by pre 1960 cultural conditions and the struggles that led to benefits said readers currently enjoy.  Collins, however, pulls no punches when it comes to describing setbacks, unforseen consequences, and other wobbly patches in women’s liberation.  A clear-eyed, well-researched read for anybody interested in contemporary women’s issues.

33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs From Billie Holiday to Green Day, Dorian Lynskey.  Music buffs and casual listeners alike will find something to love in Lynskey’s collection, which begins by defining the term “protest song,” then takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the cultural circumstances under which some of America’s hardest-hitting tunes were composed.  Beginning with “Strange Fruit,” Lynskey winds through the tumultuous events of twentieth-century history, highlighting artists such as Woody Guthrie , Dead Kennedys, and the recently deceased Gil Scott-Heron.  If you’re curious about the stories behind some of your favorite songs, or just want to learn more about protest music in America, this collection will engross and absorb you!

 Seven Days in the Art World, Sarah Thornton.  When it’s too hot to do anything useful, why not try an imaginary life on for size?  Thornton’s in-depth exploration of what it’s like to be part of the contemporary art world allows you to do just that, so if you’ve ever fantasized about working at Christie’s, going to art school, or participating in an international exhibition, this is the book for you.  Thornton’s seven chapters provide a fly-on-the-wall view of what it’s like to occupy a different role in the visual arts, from creator to teacher to buyer, delivering an experience that’s sure to both educate and entertain.  If you love reality television, why not switch off the set for a second and see how the “warts and all” experience of behind-the-scenes reporting translates into book form?

Hot as it may get, you won’t want to hide from the 11th annual Summer Reading Extravaganza coming up on June 12th.  Even I will be there, slathered in sunscreen, and probably wearing a ridiculous hat.  And if the reclusive librarian with the sunshine phobia will be there, you have no excuse not to join the fun.  Pre-register today so you can dive right into the festivities, or sign up that day and tell the registration staff about all the great books you’ve been reading thus far.  And if you happen to catch me before I vanish back into the shadows?  We can swap book suggestions and smoothie recipes!  Definitely cool, in multiple senses of the word.

Leigh Anne
pale, pedantic and proud


Filed under Uncategorized