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Summer reading, summer fun for all ages

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"The summer reading program is the quintessential public library program," says LaDonna Gunn, assistant district director of Delta County Libraries. "Children, their families and educators can count on the libraries to provide a fun way to engage in reading and other learning activities throughout the summer."

Delta County Libraries offers an eight-week summer reading program for children, teens and adults in addition to all of its other regular programming. The 2017 summer programs will start the week of June 5 and will run through the week of July 24. Librarians countywide are gearing up for their busiest time of the year.

Data collected for the 2016 summer reading program details attendance, number of programs offered and other valuable insights. In 2016, there were 3,828 program participants and 220,400 minutes of reading documented during the eight-week period. A total of 144 individual programs were offered and 916 books were given away countywide.

"The children's program draws the largest numbers," Gunn explains. Over 500 children registered for the program in May of 2016 but participation increased from there. "We had a total of 2,703 children participate in our 2016 program," Gunn elaborates.

Although these are very positive outcomes, Delta County Libraries aims to boost its participation in 2017. "We have increased our outreach efforts countywide, especially in the public schools," says Lea Hart, district director of Delta County Libraries. "We believe that as long as the community is aware of what we are doing, we will draw larger numbers based on the caliber of the programming we offer and the incentives to participate."

This year's theme, "Build a Better World," offers the opportunity for fun and diverse programming. Countywide kick-off parties mark the beginning of the children's program the week of June 5 with The Embodying Rhythm Musical Outreach Ensemble with David Alderdice & Friends. Moving into week two, all ages will be entertained with The Six Little Critters and the Big, Somewhat-Bad Dragon puppet show. Over the following six weeks, children will engage in a variety of activities, including visual arts, design challenges, building projects and rock painting.

Throughout the eight-week program, library staff will introduce participants to books relating to the theme and activities. Children also have the opportunity to track their reading time, both in and out of the library, to earn book prizes to take home.

Parents and children alike agree that reading during the summer is important and fun. Scholastic conducts a biannual national survey of children ages 6 through 17 and their parents called the Kids & Family Reading Report. Of those surveyed, 96 percent of parents and 80 percent of children agree that reading books during the summer helps during the school year.

Delta County parent Katie Smith could not agree more. "As a parent of a 10-year-old son and an almost 6-year-old daughter, I know it's not always easy to get my kids to read together, especially during the summer time," Smith says. "I love the summer reading program because it gets them excited to read in a fun manner, without them even realizing they are learning. They are excited each week when we pick up new books; they can't wait to get home to read them. I love that it brings our family together for reading time. The summer reading program is valuable to me because it gets my kids fired up and excited about reading! I would encourage other families to bring their kids down to their local library for some reading fun!"

Registration for the 2017 summer reading program opens Friday, May 26. Contact your local library or visit www.deltalibraries.org for more information.

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