The Rock Island Library’s Universe of Stories programming and reading challenges launch June 1 at all Rock Island Libraries and online. People of all ages can stay busy exploring new worlds of learning this summer, with weekly art, science, math, summer reading challenges, reading challenges, and a whole galaxy of free events at the Rock Island Public Library.


Registration is open now for weekly programs offered on Monday and Tuesdays for kids in Kindergarten through Sixth grades. STEAMAZING Mondays, Carle’s Creators, Art is Universal, and Blast Off Math all start the week of June 3 at the Rock Island Downtown Library, 401 19th Street.


STEAM-AZING provides hands on learning in science, technology, engineering, art and math on Mondays, June 3 to July 15 for kids in grades K-6. Projects range from Strange New Planet, where kids plan out space missions, to the Mega Levitator and Big Bang Bubbles shows by Absolute Science. Art related activities include two sessions with the Figge art educator and a family tie-dye event. While most STEAMAZING events start at 3:00 pm, the June 24 Family Tie Dye event is offered as a drop-in event from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, and the July 1 Big Bang Bubbles show is offered from 4:00 to 5:00 pm.


From Tuesday, June 4 to July 9, the library offers the Carle’s Creators art program for children in K-3 grades, and Art is Universal, for children going into 3rd to 8th grades. Both programs are offered from 2:00 to 3:00 pm at the Downtown Library, allowing families to bring siblings of different ages. Registration is required for both programs, which are made possible by funding from the Geifman Memorial for art and drama of the Rock Island Public Library Foundation.


  • Carle’s Creators, named in honor of children’s illustrator Eric Carle, offers hands-on art projects inspired by picture book illustration styles and methods. It’s the best option for little or beginning artists who want to explore art techniques in charcoal crayons, watercolor, scratch art, and mosaic.


  • Art is Universal explores more advanced art techniques and projects with help from instructor Gloria Burlingame. Participants will view the works of a famous artist, followed by a project that replicates that look or technique.


Immediately following both art programs, Blast Off Math allows kids in grades 2 through 6 to explore how math makes up the universe. Rock Island math tutor Elizabeth Russell leads fun, hands-on math projects from 3:15 pm to 4:00 pm, June 4 to July 9 at the Downtown Library.


Additional events open to registration now include an Interactive Movie Night, offered from 5:30 to 7:30 pm Wednesday, June 5 at the Downtown Library. The alien-hunting movie offers participants to play with slime, eat some tasty “bugs,” and create new identities for when their alien-hunting career ends. Wear black or dress as an alien for more fun. Register for everyone attending in your group.


The library is also sponsoring the “Universe of Stars” field trip to the John Deere Planetarium at Augustana College at 10:00 am on Monday, June 17. Participants will enjoy a guided tour of the night sky courtesy of Dr. Lee Carkner and the planetarium’s new digital projection system. Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to the planetarium. Registration is open to ages third grade and above.


Events that require registration are marked with a book symbol in the library calendar. Sign up online at the library events calendar, or call the library children’s department at 309-732-7360.


Registration for the library’s RockTown Summer Reading Challenges for all ages starts early on May 25 at all Rock Island Libraries and online. The Summer Reading Challenge encourages children, teens, and adults to read for fun, learning and prizes June 1 to July 31. Mission goals by age include:

  • Children, preschool to sixth grades: Tracking 24 books or 6 hours of reading time, with prize levels at every 8 books or 2 hours. Reading aloud to a child counts!
  • Teens, ages 12 to 18: Reading up to 1,000 minutes, with prizes available at every 250 minutes;
  • Adults, 19 and up: Reading up to seven books over the summer, with prizes at 4 and 7 books.

Registration in the reading challenges not required to attend library events. To sign up, visit any Rock Island Library on or after May 25, or participate online via Beanstack.


Free library events and summer reading challenges help families avoid the summer slide, a decline in reading ability and other academic skills that can occur when school isn’t in session. Numerous studies show that kids who don’t read during summer vacation actually slip in reading ability by the time school rolls around, and that the affect can be cumulative.


For more events in the library’s Universe of Stories programming, visit the library website, call 309-732-READ or follow the Rock Island Library on social media.


Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.