Students can stay sharp with summer program

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 9, 2012



For many children and teens, a stack of books can be seen in the proverbial rearview mirror as school lets out for the summer, the incentive to read anything often lacking until their return to the classroom in August.

But it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone. The St. John the Baptist Parish Public Libraries are providing such an incentive in the form of their annual summer reading program, which began June 4 and will run through July 28.

The program is divided into two age groups. One is for ages 0-12 and will have the theme “Dream Big, Read!” The other is for ages 13-18, and the theme is “Own the Night.”

“What we have happen often is that when they get out of school, the reading level drops dramatically,” said Roberta August, the library’s Central Branch Manager. “We hope to bridge that gap during the summer for them. Students need to keep up their studies, and we feel like this is a good way for them to do so.

“Once they’ve done this, it becomes that much easier to get back into the swing of things quickly when school reopens.”

Each participant in the program can earn rewards based on what he or she has read. For the younger age group, reading 10 books yields a certificate and a photograph of the reader displayed alongside others recognized for the achievement at the library. For every 20 books, the participant will receive a drawstring bag and their name in a special drawing, the winner to receive a yet-to-be-determined prize. Once 20 books are read, the reader can continue to participate: for every 10 books thereafter, their name is placed into the prize drawing again.

For the older group, every five age-appropriate books read yields a drawstring bag and a certificate.

August said signups for the younger group have been strong, but she’d like to see more participation for the older group.

On the first day, we had 55 signups for the “Dream Big” group,” said August. “For the teens, we kind of have to reel them in. It hasn’t been quite as big with them.”

She also noted that the library supports the summer reading programs of the schools themselves.

“We do stress and encourage that these kids kill two birds with one stone, so to speak,” August said. “When they read the books on the summer reading list, they can count those toward our program as well.”

Those interested in participating may sign up at any of St. John’s four branches in LaPlace, Edgard, Reserve or Garyville.

The reading program is just one of a number of programs ongoing at the library, including ones involving movies, crafts, a scrapbooking workshop and a Zumba class. There are also story times for ages 3-5 and a special Lapsit story time for ages 0-2.

Upcoming events include a princess party, a superhero party and performers such as singer/storytellers Johnette Downing (June 18) and Papillion (June 25) and another by Harry Rabbit (July 5), a ventriloquist act by a husband and wife duo.

“It took us three years to get Harry Rabbit…  that’s how popular they are,” said August. “They are really, really good.”

The programs have helped the library earn a noticeable bump in activity recently, said August.

“We want them at the library,” said August. “We’ve picked up a good bit and hopefully that continues.”