Critters and creatures from the underground
Mooneyham Public Library in Forest City was filled with a chorus of children's "eww's," "whoa's" and laughter Thursday morning during the library's summer reading program featuring a slew of underground animals.
As part of the library's 'Dig into Reading' program this summer, Mandy Jordan with the Schiele Museum in Gastonia visited to discuss animal adaptations and brought along a variety of critters and creatures that live beneath the ground.
"Do you like animals?" Jordan asked the children, for which they replied with an unanimous "Yes."
"Are you afraid of animals?" she continued to ask, receiving several courageous "No's" in response.
"We do a lot of outreach programs for community centers, church groups, day cares and libraries," Jordan said. "The animals are always the most popular with the kids."
As Jordan sprinkled in bits of animal education about eating habits and exoskeletons, she introduced the children to underground animals including a millipede, toad, tarantula and desert tortoise named "Cortez." When Jordan placed the tarantula on her shirt, the majority of the children covered their eyes and did not take too kindly to the giant spider.
Instead, the most popular creature with the children was "Thumper," a fluffy black rabbit which they enjoyed petting.
Children even got to view the museum's collection of snake skins, a stuffed owl, a tarantula exoskeleton and a black bear skin.
"These are all underground animals, even the owl," Jordan told children. "We don't always think of birds living in the ground."
Like other area libraries, Mooneyham provides its summer reading program for young children at no cost.
"The underground animals has definitely been our most exciting program this year," said Library Director Denise Strickland.
Earlier this summer, the library featured special guests from the Thermal City Gold Mine and master gardeners from the Rutherford County Cooperative Extension.
The library's summer reading program concludes on Thursday, August 1 with an end of summer party complete with refreshments, goodie bags for children and a special reading of Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat."
"The kids' excitement is wonderful anytime we show them things like animals," Jordan said. "That is what makes it very rewarding."