Summer is sweet at the La Cañada Library

For kids, there may no better motivator than candy. On Tuesday afternoon, as outside temperatures climbed into the 90s, two local libraries took advantage of that truism, beckoning youth to come inside for cool, candy-themed activities being held as part of a countywide summer reading program.

At the La Cañada Flintridge Library, participants made candy sundaes with wrapped treats, curled ribbons and decorative straws, while the La Crescenta Library held a candy necklace-making activity with jelly beans, licorice bits and marshmallows standing in for gems, pendants and beads.

It's all part of the County of Los Angeles Public Library system's attempt to keep kids engaged in books and learning throughout the summer months.

"You want to get them interested in the library," says Kimberly Ann Talbert, circulation supervisor of the La Cañada Flintridge branch, who led the candy sundae activity. "Then you can say, 'If you like what you're doing, you can get books on it.'"

"Reading is So Delicious," is the theme of this year's summer reading program, so activities have kids decorating herb planters and cupcakes, learning edible science or following recipes.

La Crescenta mom Jazzmin Nelson says her 11-year-old daughter, Azlynn, has taken part in several programs so far. It's a nice way to fill up summer days.

"You just want something for them to do," she says. "If it's local, doesn't cost a lot and you get to stay out of the heat, those are all pluses."

Azlynn takes a seat at a table with three other girls and instantly joins in conversation with 10-year-old Dahsom Seo about projects they've done and candy in general.

"I like that you can just hang out with people, and some projects you get to eat," Azlynn says.

About 20 kids huddle around tables, carefully poking needles through gummy candies and jelly beans as Teen Librarian Teresa Saldana supervises. Some grimace when marshmallow guts gunk up the string, and others offer tips for easy removal. At one table, 10-year-old Aleena Nayebyan sits with mother Eileen and brother Andrew, 7.

"Don't eat that — I'm going to put that in my necklace," she chides when Andrew reaches out to snag a jelly bean.

Eileen Nayebyan says she appreciates the convenience of the library activities.

"If we're bored we just swing by," she says. "It's fun. They're not complaining, and it's convenient because it's nearby."

As the class winds to a close Aleena shows off her creation, which features a marshmallow centerpiece. Next to her, Andrew attempts to control a mouthful of gum balls (the one candy his sister's needle couldn't pierce). Although it's nice to have the treats all strung up, Aleena admits she probably won't actually wear it as a necklace. Why not?

"It's sticky," she says, grinning.

But unlike their gemstone counterparts, candy necklaces aren't really for wearing — if they even manage to survive the car ride home, that is.


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