Tyler Police Officer Brad Langford was a popular attraction as he stood in the Tyler Public Library’s parking lot next to his work motorcycle.
Children and adults readily came up to Langford, peppering him with questions about his job, his motorcycle, his uniform and more.
Langford was happy to answer and even helped children get on the motorcycle for photos and gave them junior police officer stickers.
“The best thing about these type of events is getting to talk to the kids and let them know they shouldn’t be afraid of us, that they can ask questions and not be shy,” Langford said.
The officer was among several city employees with vehicles at the library on Monday as part of the Touch a Truck event.
The event, which served as a kickoff for the library’s Summer Reading Program, included a fire truck, police motorcycle and SUV, as well as vehicles from the city’s solid waste department and a bucket truck.
It aimed to get families’ attention along with their children to join the reading program and attend future library events.
Linda Gray, the city’s youth services librarian, was in charge of the event and manages the reading program that encourages children to read a minimum of 12 hours in order to earn prizes.
“This is our third Touch a Truck event we have done; it’s a fun way to kick off the summer,” Gray said. “Today would be the first day of the Summer Reading Club. Our goal is to remind the community that the library is here and keep the children’s brains alive.”
Gray mentioned the main focus is to have as many readers as possible complete the 12 hours of reading during the eight-week program.
Reading any printed word counts, and with a minimum of 20 minutes a day, five days a week, it could be achieved, Gray said. Children who cannot read on their own can participate by having adults read to them.
“Anyone who has Internet access can record their reading hours, but we also have laptops available for those who don’t have access and can rent them out for their reading purposes,” Gray said.
As of Friday, more than 300 people had registered to participate in the reading program. Of those, 102 were early readers, 99 were elementary students, 47 were teenagers and 64 were adults.
“None of these events require a library card, as long as they are reading we count it,” Gray said. “We also encourage using audiobooks because of the pronunciation of words, which is helpful for a child that’s starting to read. This gives them the startup.”
The Touch a Truck event was filled with boys and girls who excitedly played around the vehicles and asked questions while their parents took pictures.
Emily Adams, a mother who is part of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) from Green Acres Baptist Church, saw the event on Facebook and decided to bring her two boys.
“We did the Junior League Touch a Truck last year and it was really fun,” Adams said. “Moms in the summertime love free outings and anything that is appealing to our kids. We love trucks so we had to come.”
Julie Medford and her son Barrett Medford, 4, were another truck-loving pair who went to the event thanks to their online search for summer activities.
“Barrett loves trucks,” Medford said. “His favorite is a tow truck so we had to come today, and we are also interested in the Summer Reading Program.”
Registration for the Summer Reading Program began May 1 and is still open. The program runs from June 5 to July 28. The program is open to children younger than 18, but an adult Summer Reading Program also is available.