The St. Charles Parish Public Library is hoping to entice students to keep learning over the summer break by offering plenty of fun-filled educational activities during their Summer Reading Program.
Activities offered under the program, in addition to reading, will include science experiments, improv acting classes, a dance performance, puppet shows as well as visits from special guests.
The Summer Reading Program serves four different age groups: younger children (ages 7 and under), tweens (ages 8-11) and teens (ages 12-18) and also features an adult reading program that is only in its second year.
This yearís theme is "Dig into Reading." Marci Saucier, the youth services librarian, said many of the childrenís programs will deal directly with that theme.
"We are doing anything that is underground including archaeology, the construction world or dinosaurs. We are doing several worm programs," she said.
All age groups will also see expanded activities under the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program.
"Weíre doing real basic science experiments, sort of along the line of Bill Nye the Science Guy," Saucier said.
Amy Boling, young adult librarian, said the STEM program for the tweens and teens will be more involved than that for the younger children.
"Those are fun, interactive science activities and if we did the activity for teens and tweens it would be more hands on and they would be doing more actual experiments," she said. "If we were going to do it for children it would be more of a demonstration."
The childrenís program will also have a chance to compete in a community wide scavenger hunt.
"For children we have mascots. This year it is a picture of a garden gnome," Saucier said. "For instance, if the kids are at the post office they see the mascot they can take them and bring them in and get a prize."
Outside of those finding the mascots, all who take part in the program will get a chance to win other prizes.
Those in the childrenís group who sign up for the reading program will receive different awards as they meet benchmarks. For completing three hours of reading, participants will get a certificate of completion and they will get advancement stickers for completing both six and nine hours of reading. To be eligible for a gift basket raffle at the end of the year, participants have to read at least 12 hours throughout the program for which they will also receive a reading medal.
Completion levels will be measured differently for tweens and teens.
"They keep a reading log and the teens have a club card. They collect stars and they can do a variety of things," Boling said. "They can either turn in book reviews, and we get tons of book reviews, they can come to programs or they can read for hour to get a star. For every program they come to they get a star. So they have a little more flexibility on how they want to do it."
Boling said about 30 percent of tweens and teens who enter the program complete it each year.
"If they collect eight stars on their club card they are done. They receive a free book bag and they get their name entered into a drawing for a gift basket. We do one for the teens and one for the tweens," she said.
In addition to the reading program and STEM activities, program participants will also have a chance to see special guests.
The childrenís program this year will include a performance by childrenís performer Johnette Downing and a marionette show by Calliope Puppets.
For the tweens and teens program, New Orleans actor Jennifer Lindsley is going to be teaching improve drama workshops and a dance duo "Rhythm and Soul" will do an interactive dance presentation called "No Bullies Allowed".
"We are also having a visit from the Zoo Mobile and Wetlands Express," Saucier said.
Lastly, the teen summer program will finish up with an overnight lock-in.
"The thing we have been doing for the past three years is a lock-at the end of summer and we bring in ages 12-17," Boling said."They stay from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. from a Saturday to a Sunday. Thatís going to be on July 27 of this year and thatís been really, really popular."
Saucier said keeping children active throughout the summer is important.
"We try to keep them from slacking off without being too school -oriented during the summer, to keep them reading and keep their minds active," Saucier said. "They have done all kinds of studies on reading programs and have found they have been very beneficial to kids."
Boling said the program also gets residents involved in the library who might not ordinarily be.
"We get to do programing that we donít normally get to do during the year. So that is a chance to introduce new faces to what we have to offer," she said.
This year Saucier expects 1,000 children to take part in her program alone. Boling said around 600 tweens and teens are also anticipated to sign up for the young adult program.
The summer reading program is free to all who would like to participate. It begins June 3 and runs through July 27. Although those participating are encouraged to sign up for the program, anyone can come to any event.
For more information call the St. Charles Parish Library at (895)764-2366 or (985)785-8471.
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