The Lonesome Pine Regional Library system is unveiling a new after-school program.

Trailblazers will include book talks, games, activities and crafts for school-aged children. The program will begin in August at all of the Lonesome Pine Regional Library locations except for Rose Hill.

In an email, library Director Julie Short wrote: “The definition of a trailblazer that we are adopting for our after school programs is ‘A trailblazer is a person who is the leader in a particular field, especially a person who does a particular thing before anyone else does.’ Reading for pleasure and for educational value is the foundation that sets the course for our area’s youth, helping them to develop leadership skills, express creativity, and spark ingenuity — the necessary skills to become future Trailblazers.”

Along with the new program comes a new mascot. Booney the Bear, named after explorer Daniel Boone, who was a “trailblazer” in the Appalachian Mountains. Booney is the older brother of Appy the Fox and is part of the continuation of the library system’s rebranding of its children’s program.

Appy the Fox was unveiled last August when library officials decided their children’s programs needed a little refurbishing. The library worked with students from East Tennessee State University to help incorporate regional themes into its programs. “We wanted to personalize our programs and tie them to the area,” said Short.

Appy the Fox is named after both “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” author John Fox and the Appalachian Mountains. The Little Pines program pays homage to the novel as well.

Last year, the program offered author visits from local children’s book authors Elizabeth Fletcher and Jahmal Potter. Authors also spoke to the class via Skype, a video calling system. This year, Short says they will do more of the same.

The Trailblazers program is for children from pre-kindergarten through grade seven. Trailblazers won’t just be meeting at the libraries; some locations will meet at local parks as well. The Wise County Public Library in Wise is also having a LEGO wall installed to use during its program.

“We just want to encourage the children to read for fun,” said Short. “We want them to come to the library for fun, engagement and enrichment of reading activities.”

The Trailblazers and Little Pine Learners programs begin the week of Aug. 12. Check with your local Lonesome Pine Regional Library branch for day and time.

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