Wearing the kind of black-and-white striped pants Tim Burton would surely approve of, Rose Nowak, teen coordinator for Morris Public Library, poured tea for a family of library patrons.
It was the kick-off event of Morris Public Library’s summer reading program Friday, which began June 10 and runs through July 20.
The theme this year is “Reading Through the Ages” and so, for the initial event, Nowak and Sarah Snyder, the adult services assistant for the library, settled on a steampunk-themed party.
“It’s Victorian, which is on the theme of this year’s program, but it’s also really popular,” Nowak said.
“It’s more popular now than it’s ever been,” Snyder added.
Steampunk, which has been around for a while but has risen to prominence in more recent years, is a fantasy-science fiction sub-category that aestheticizes anachronistic technologies, such as steam-powered engines and airships.
Steampunk has been manifest in media in films like “Sherlock Holmes,” in a style of dress that resembles Victorian garb and, on Friday, in the basement of the Morris Public Library.
Participants in the reading program snacked on cucumber sandwiches and tea, watched “The Prestige” and played charades, the name game and Pictionary — all Victorian games, Snyder said.
According to Library Director Kyla Waltermire, the party was in keeping with the overall idea of the reading program — to promote learning and reading throughout the summer months.
“It’s a great way to keep the momentum going,” Waltermire said.
But it’s not just for kids — about 600 adults, teens and children are expected to participate in this year’s program.
“It brings the family together and gives them a reason to read as a group,” she said.
The Haish family, who stopped by the steampunk party, is one of those that participates every year. The kids — Angelina, Emily and Brian — like the programs and the “challenge” of collecting stickers.
Their mother, Sarah, likes that it keeps the kids reading beyond the school year.
“They do a lot of great programs here,” Sarah Haish said. “It’s a really great way to keep the kids reading.”
“It’s a challenge, so it’s fun for them,” she added.
Angelina said she is looking forward to reading “Bad Kitty,” a book about a mischievous cat, because she has read others in the series.
“They’re funny,” Angelina explained.
Waltermire said the theme of this year’s reading program was chosen, in part, because 2013 marks the library’s centennial.
“The theme this year is historical in nature,” Waltermire said. “With it being our centennial, the theme seemed appropriate.”
The reading program features prize drawings throughout the six-week duration, as well as other events. It culminates with a “finale” in July — a massive party for those who participated. The party will include ice cream and a stilt walker.
There’s still time to join, although Waltermire said participants would ideally join for at least four weeks of the program.
“We are expecting this to be one of our busiest years,” Waltermire said.