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One worldly woodchuck inspires Burleson county kids to visit their local library

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 19:16:08-04

CALDWELL, TEXAS — A new reading program at the Harry P. Woodson Memorial Library in Caldwell is making changes in the lives of children, a local nonprofit, and the library itself.

Ty Matcek, a Caldwell third-grader, said he doesn't know what he'd do if the town's library wasn't in operation.

"I'd probably move to a different place so I can buy more books... and, the [library] books [here] are free!”

For the past several months, Caldwell library staff have been hard at work to make sure that the children of Burleson County have the same love for reading as Ty.

"It became apparent that if we do not get children in our library, there will not be a library in another ten to twenty years," said Heidi Frazier, program coordinator for the Harry P. Woodson Memorial Library. "We have to get our youth involved.”

Woody the woodchuck represents the library’s two new features: the summer reading program, and the yearlong Woodchuck Club. Both opportunities encourage kids to read and visit the library. Participating children earn small prizes for meeting certain goals, and are even gifted with a reading log journal, handcrafted by the local quilting guild.

"This summer, our children are reading for dog food," Frazier said, chuckling. "They keep track of the amount of time they read, or the number of books they read, depending on their age, and they earn dog food. And collectively, all of this dog food is going to be donated to the One By One Animal Rescue.”

Frazier estimated that approximately 200 are signed up for both the summer program, and the yearlong Woodchuck Club. Some 'Woodchucks' are as young as babies, while others are approaching high school, like Ty Matcek’s older sister Lillian.

"With the summer reading program, I like to read a lot, so I have read all through the [log sheet]," said the twelve-year-old club member. "I think I’ve read about 12 hours that I’ve actually marked down.”

The summer reading program will soon end, just as school is set to start, kids will be able to present the cans of dog food they earned to One By One, courtesy of their hard work reading, and the local Friends of the Library chapter.

Of course, the woodchucks will continue to be able to participate in the new year-round club, earning those treats for turns of the page.