June 8th, 2015

Maryland’s Best Ghost Stories

Elk LandingOn June 22 at 6:30 pm, author/historian Ed Okonowicz will give a talk about spooky Maryland and Cecil County stories and legends. As I was putting this program together, I remembered listening to ghost stories around the campfire when I was a kid and wondered, how long have ghost stories been around? When and why did people start telling these whispered, spooky tales?

Since ancient times, ghost stories – tales of spirits who return from the dead to haunt the places they left behind – have been an important part of the folklore of many different cultures around the world. The idea of a ghost or a specter is based on the idea that a person’s spirit exists separate from his or her physical body, and may continue to exist after the person dies. Because of this idea, many societies would use funeral rituals to make sure that the dead person’s spirit would not return to ‘haunt’ the living who were left behind.

Spirits of the dead appear in literature as early as the 8th century BC in Homer’s ‘Odyssey,’ which features a journey to the underworld and the hero encountering the ghosts of the dead. Roman author and statesman, Pliny the Younger, recorded one of the first ghost stories that features a haunted house in his letters in the first century A.D.  Pliny said that the ghost of an old man with a long beard and rattling chains was haunting his house in Athens, Greece.

Many different cultures have their own version of the ghost story. The Duppy is a West Indian ghost who will appear if coins and a glass of rum are thrown on its grave. The Indian Mumiai is a ghost who throws things around. They especially like to make trouble for people who are lazy or criminals. The Japanese Umi Bozu is a huge sea ghost who haunts Japanese sailors.

America has its own rich tradition of historical ghosts, including one of its founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin. Beginning in the late 19th century, Franklin’s ghost was seen in Philadelphia and some reports held that the statue of Franklin in front of the American Philosophical Society comes to life and dances in the street. The White House in Washington, D.C. has had many ghost sightings over the years. Everyone from first ladies to prime ministers have reported seeing the ghost of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

CCPL has a number of Mr. Okonowicz’s spooky stories as well as other ghost and haunted tales.

I hope you’ll join us on June 22. We’ll have a “campfire” and s’mores pie!

Do you dare?


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May 26th, 2015

CCPL Summer Reading 2015: Every Hero Has a Story

Superhero!“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
― Joseph Campbell

This is your official call to adventure!   Should you accept the challenge, you will conquer your fears, come face to face with friends and foes, and claim the treasures that await you on your hero’s journey…

The concept of “The Hero’s Journey,” first identified by mythologist Joseph Campbell as it relates to world myths and stories, is based on the belief that each person is born with a purpose and it is our deepest desire to express it.  We are each the hero of our own life’s story.

“Every Hero Has a Story” is the theme for this year’s Summer Reading Program at public libraries across the nation.  It is an invitation to readers of all ages to participate in unique reading and learning opportunities at every library and be richly rewarded!

Thanks to the heroic support of the Cecil County Friends of the Library, powerful programming is planned at every branch.  From Spiderman to local K-9 police dogs, from George Washington to family farmers, celebrated stories of heroes past, present, and future will be spotlighted.

Be amazed and delighted by Mike Rose’s “Super Magic,  go face-to-face with sharks thanks to the National Aquarium, bring favorite nursery rhyme heroes and heroines to life with Winterthur Museum,  create hands-on “super art” with the Delaware Art Museum and train to be a future hero with martial artist Josh Hayhurst.   All library branches will offer an action-packed line-up of early childhood classes, school-age activities, STEM and lots more for teens and adults!

Educators agree that reading is integral to success in school and in life.  To encourage everyone to keep reading throughout the summer months, incentive programs are offered at all levels from babies through adult.  Parents are encouraged to enroll younger children in “read-to-me”; older readers can track time spent reading and all receive fantastic prizes and coupons and earn chances to enter grand prize raffles for scooters, Orioles tickets, family fun baskets, gift cards and more!

The action officially begins June 1 and runs through August 8.   Most branches will host Summer Reading Blast-off events on June 6 packed with superheroes, a Comic-con, environmental heroes, crafts, refreshments, and program registration.  Contact your local branch for details and leap into your library to live out your own hero’s story!

Who is your favorite hero?


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