More children than ever were reading in Watertown this summer.
Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library had 224 11-year-old and younger children sign up to dream big this years theme for the summer reading program, compared with last years 103 children. The teen program also had a substantial boost, jumping from 41 12- to 18-year-olds to 74.
We got in touch with the local schools, childrens librarian Ashley J. Groff said. We also had a kickoff event out at the (farmers) market, so we were able to reach more families that way.
More sign-ups meant more books were read. Miss Groff said a total of 3,481 books were read by the children in her age group, compared with last years 2,237 books. The teen program logged more than 1,000 reading hours compared with last years 689 hours.
Approximately 100 children and 25 teens had signed up before the kickoff event in late June. When we were out at the market, a lot of families asked, Where is the library? not knowing that we were here, Miss Groff said.
Teen librarian Amanda G. Tehonica credits this years teen theme, Own the Night, for the growth in adolescent involvement in the summer program. With events riddled with zombies, vampires and werewolves, Mrs. Tehonica was able to use popular books such as the Twilight and Hunger Games series to spark interest in other books.
Its a chance for them to be more social, to meet new teens, she said. We had a good blend of reluctant readers and heavy readers in this years program.
There are more benefits to summer reading than just making new friends, however.
For those that are in school, it keeps them active, Miss Groff said. With those who arent in school, it gets them familiar with listening to instructions. Its getting them a little more prepared for kindergarten.
During the programs kickoff, Jeffrey W. Cannell, deputy commissioner for cultural education for the state Education Department, said summer reading prevents learning loss because the brain needs to be exercised just like any other muscle.
Those who exercised their brain enough were able to participate in the programs final parties last week. Teens who logged more than 10 reading hours were invited to an after-hours pizza and video game party Friday evening. Younger children had a party Wednesday that included a special certificate ceremony and extra prize drawings for those who made their summer reading goal.
Both librarians said they received positive comments about the program from parents and inquiries about other library events coming soon. Miss Groff has been using the opportunity to promote Appleumpkin, the librarys annual fall festival Oct. 6. This year, local author Holly Gaskin will visit to read her book Tricked, which is based in Watertown.
I must have hit the nail on the head with what they wanted because it worked, Miss Groff said.