As the school year comes to an end across Lycoming County, libraries take to task the challenge of engaging children with literature amid the fierce competition of theme parks, swimming pools and hiking trails.
On June 18, Lycoming County will launch a summer reading program designed to captivate the minds of the impressionable youth, while making the activities as accessible as possible.
The youth theme this year is "Fizz, Boom, READ!" and many activities surround the book selections, including performances by musicians, magicians and visits by the Franklin Institute of Science.
Shown are some of the presenters and activities that will take place during this year’s summer reading program at area libraries. This year’s theme is science inspired.
Additionally, every library in Lycoming County will host a Geoscience Program with field paleontologists.
"The James V. Brown Library also partners with area child care facilities as an outreach element to the traditional summer reading program to help children who are unable to come to the library to participate in summer reading and build their literacy skills over the summer," said Nina Edgerton, the library's youth services coordinator.
The summer reading program is available to all children, teens and adults in Williamsport and surrounding communities in Lycoming County.
10 ways to help children
enjoy reading this summer
The librarians at the James V. Brown Library in Williamsport provided the following ways to help children enjoy reading over the summer months:
1. Make time for reading.
2. Get your child his or her own library card.
3. Visit the library frequently and participate in Summer Reading activities.
4. Keep different types of reading materials at home.
5. Encourage your child to learn new words.
6. Allow your child to choose what he or she reads.
7. Find magazines that interest your child.
8. Talk about what your child is reading.
9. Be a reading role model.
10. Keep it fun.
The James V. Brown Library has activities for bookworms of all ages from babies to adults. By encouraging your children to engage in summer reading activities, you will help them find a lot of fun ways to use reading throughout the summer, all while keeping their reading skills in good shape.
Mobile libraries will visit various community locations complementing the program with the Storymobile and Splashmobile that brings the program to children who may not have access to the library.
Registration for the program is open now through July 11.
Participants will follow a reading log throughout the summer and then return their completed log to the library for a prize from Aug. 4 through 29, just before the traditional school schedule reconvenes.
Prizes are based on the child's age and are designed to honor local community organizations, including tickets for Community Arts Center presentations, ComicCon, Reptiland, Little League Museum and Roy's Bakery.
"What's unique about our summer reading program is that it is completely funded by donations," said Robin Glossner, library development director. "Last year, the library had more than 2,300 summer readers, offered 253 programs attended by hundreds of people, and gave away more than 800 books to build home libraries for kids who need them. The library helped students return to school ready to read and learn."
The power of literature is not forgotten and continues to influence the lives of children in Lycoming County.
"Research shows that there is nearly a 90 percent probability that a child will remain a poor reader at the end of fourth grade if the child is a poor reader at the end of first grade," Edgerton said.
To accurately address the achievement gap, Edgerton said the community needs to access ways to more thoughtfully and effectively serve nearly a quarter of the county's population.
"Providing access to quality books and reading to children on a daily basis is a low-cost intervention that a library and child care facility partnership can provide if we can work together to help children that may not be able to attend the enriching summer reading programs," Edgerton said. "We want opportunities for children to get books in their hands."
Edgerton said there are many benefits to the program; children receive encouragement that reading will become a lifelong habit, reluctant readers are influenced to read through activities and prizes, and an interest in the library and literature is generated.
"For families, the important thing is to keep reading. The important role for the parent-caregiver is to be an active, encouraging and enthusiastic participant in the process," Edgerton said. "Books are not the only tools necessary to use to encourage reading. Use a variety of materials. Maps, directions, road signs, computer games, magazines, newspapers, spelling and word games and labeling items in your home all involve reading."
Keep plenty of reading material around the house, Edgerton suggested.
"Turn off the TV and have family reading time - including Mom and Dad," she said. "It cannot be stressed enough that children who observe their parents reading become readers themselves. Make sure there are plenty of reading materials scattered throughout the house such as novels, magazines and newspapers."
Edgerton also said that parents are presented with many opportunities throughout the day to engage in verbal word play and vocabulary building, such as cooking, gardening, grocery shopping and playing games.
"You also can subscribe, in your child's name, to magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Highlights for Children or National Geographic World," she said. "Participating in the library's summer reading program and filling out a reading log of book titles gives children a sense of accomplishment that is very rewarding."
The mission of the James V. Brown Library is to be the "place to go to learn, connect and grow," and that's something the library has been doing since it was founded in 1907.
Barbara McGary, executive director of the James V. Brown Library, said summer is one of the busiest times at a library because the staff is so committed to bringing high-quality performers and programs to the community at no cost to the public to supplement the summer reading theme.
"By having fun and engaging activities, we are opening new doors to lifelong learning in our community," McGary said. "We are always looking for ways to champion the love of reading with people of all ages."
A complete list of all summer reading programs will be available at www.jvbrown.edu.
The library is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends.