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Donation saves summer reading program

POSTED June 14, 2011 9:33 p.m.

Children may look forward to a summer spent away from the classroom, but three months spent only at play can be devastating to children’s reading skills.

“Students can lose up to one-third of their skills over the summer if they don’t keep reading,” said County Librarian Vanessa Czopek.

For more than 10,000 children and teens last year, the Stanislaus Library’s summer reading program was a fun way to keep those skills sharp — and win some prizes while doing so. But the county’s ongoing budget crisis – and associated cuts to the library’s budget – threatened the future of the longstanding program this year.

Things looked grim, but a $30,600 donation from the Stanislaus Library Foundation to the Stanislaus County Library, made Tuesday, will allow the popular summer reading program to continue in 2011.

“We just want to thank you for stepping up and addressing those needs,” said Dick Monteith, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, to members of the foundation.

Other supervisors commended the move as the sort of community-driven service the county will need to survive these lean economic times.

Thanks to the foundation, this year’s summer reading program, entitled “One World, Many Stories,” will run now through Aug. 15.

To participate, children from birth to sixth grade can obtain a reading log at any county library branch. Using that log, children can track each day they spend at least 20 minutes reading anything from books to comics or newspapers, or have someone read to them.

After seven days of reading, children may bring in their reading log – signed by a parent – to pick a prize from a treasure chest. If a child completes the 28-day reading log, not necessarily on consecutive days, he or she will receive a certificate of completion, and then can start over with a new reading log.

The program caters to teens, too, but with a different, bingo-themed structure. Participants pick a square – each listing a genre – and read a work from that genre for one hour.

Once an entire row or column has been completed, teens can bring cards in for a prize, ranging from bowling and miniature golf passes to McDonald’s gift certificates. At the end of the year, a grand prize drawing will be held for an iPad, iPod shuffle, gift cards and other prizes.

Last year, more than 1,200 adults joined the summer reading program too. This year, adults can participate again as well by reading or listening to a book, then reviewing the book with a short form to enter into a free prize drawing.

For more information on the summer reading program, visit www.stanislauslibrary.org.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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