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Summer reading programs begin to blossom at area libraries

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 9:51 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 8:17 a.m. CDT
(Ryan Gaines for Shaw Media)
Jake Rundle (left), 8, and Kyleigh Allen, 11, both of Sycamore, took part in the entertainment with performer Jim “Spoon Man” Cruise during the summer reading kickoff event Saturday at Sycamore Public Library.

DeKALB – Emami Brinkman plans to take about 10 mini vacations this summer.

That is, the 14-year-old Sycamore resident plans to escape into 10 books as she participates in the summer reading program at the Sycamore Public Library.

Libraries across DeKalb County are kicking off their summer-long reading programs for children, teens and adults that will encourage them to jump into new books by offering prizes for their accomplishments.

In Sycamore and Sandwich, libraries will offer science-themed programs.

Brinkman won the grand prize of a two-foot-wide turtle stuffed animal last year after reading more than 20 young adult books. This summer, she plans read at least 10 adult books, including part of the “Game of Thrones” series.

“I always read, but during the summer it’s hard with all the other things I have going on,” Brinkman said. “The summer reading program keeps me on track and keeps me reading with the same intensity during the school year.”

Evelyn Lorence, the head of youth and teen services at the Sycamore Public Library said Sycamore’s program is divided into three levels, with the third pushing readers outside of the lines of their books. The program runs through July 31; readers can sign up at any time.

The first and second levels require students read for five hours a level. In the third level, called “read, discover, create,” readers will have to either create or discover something from a book they read. For instance, a participant who reads about paper mache could make a paper mache project. Reading a book on sharks could end with a trip to an aquarium.

“We are really trying to engage them,” Lorence said. “We, of course, want them reading, but we want them getting hands on.”

The DeKalb, Genoa and Somonauk public libraries will use the Illinois Reading Enrichment and Development program’s 2014 animal theme, “Paws to Read.”

The DeKalb program starts Monday and will run through Aug. 10, said teen librarian Steve Roman.

He hopes this year will draw as many, if not more, than the 1,110 children who participated last year.

He said curbing summer reading loss – the decline in children’s reading development – lies at the core of the summer reading program. Low-income students lose more than two months of reading achievement over the summer, while their middle-class peers make slight gains, according to the National Summer Learning Association.

“Reading helps not only to maintain those skills, but to improve those skills over the summer,” Roman said.

Children from birth to 12 can participate in one of four children’s reading clubs depending on their reading skill level. Each level has a different reading goal to meet during the summer to be entered into a prize drawing.

For the first time, the library also will offer a separate program for teenagers ages 13 to 17. Teens will need to read four books to have a shot at winning a Kindle Fire.

“It was just about time,” Roman said about offering a teen program. “We decided we had the opportunity to do so and teens like to have something of their own.”

On Monday, the Genoa Public Library program will kick off with a petting zoo, Director Jen Barton said. Special animal-themed events will fill the rest of the program, including a visit from Charley Bejna, an Addison-native who completed The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race as a musher.

Summer reading programs give readers a chance to dive into a book for their own pleasure rather than because the material is required by a class, Barton said. When the only goal is to read for 10, 12 or 16 hours depending on age, participants can be a little more adventurous than normal.

“It gives the opportunity to read something you would enjoy or discover something new or a new author you might not have thought you would like,” Barton said.

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