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More than 200 kids enjoy independent summer reading

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MASSENA - More than 200 youngsters decided not to take a break from reading this summer.

Massena Public Library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer said about 220 youth signed up for this summer’s independent reading program, a jump in the numbers they usually see.

“We’re always around the 200 mark,” she said.

This year’s theme was “Dig Into a Good Book,” and those who record 100 minutes of independent reading receive a free book and a Subway meal coupon-certificate. Those who record 200 minutes also receive a Stewart’s ice cream certificate and Pizza Hut coupon.

All participants who completed 100 hours of reading before the end of July earned an invitation to an end-of-program library skating party held at the St. Lawrence Centre arena.

Although the actual summer reading program is over, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said the independent reading portion goes on until the beginning of the school year, and children are still eligible for the rewards.

“Children who have not met their reading goals, who haven’t read 100 or 200 minutes, can continue that part of the program right through to when they go back to school. It’s not too late,” she said.

The summer reading program began on July 2 with magician Terri-Lynn Hunter, and a number of other activities were held during the month.

Those included a visit by Rattlesnake Red, a “Dinosaur Storytime” at the Robert Moses State Park Nature Center, a visit from Clifford the Big Red Dog, a Tie-Dye T-shirt class led by Ty Danboise, a planetarium program presented by Bruce and Alice McClure and “Gravitational Bull,” a juggling show presented this week by Dave and Kyle Fultz.

Arts and crafts classes and special Storytime sessions were also held during the month, including one featuring St. Lawrence County Dairy Princess Alternate Kalie Peets, who read a dairy story and handed out cheese to the kids.

Those activities remain popular among the kids and adults, according to Ms. Dunne-Thayer.

“The actual attendance at our programs has far exceeded” the number of children who signed up for the summer reading program, she said, estimating that 130 people attended this week’s juggling show by Dave and Kyle Fultz.

About 90 kids were in the children’s room for the visit by Ms. Peets, she said.

Clifford was a big hit with the visitors, too.

“We expected it to be very busy. At the time we had Curious George we were very busy. They offered the program again, and we were able to advertise a little better,” she said.

The weather - sometimes rainy, sometimes hot - may have played a role in their numbers this year, Mrs. Dunne-Thayer said, or it may have been that many families chose to stay in the area and were looking for local activities to enjoy.

“It was indicative of the type of summer it was,” she said. “We are very pleased. Every year we try a few different things and those were very well-received. We had wonderful comments from our patrons.”

And the more patrons they have in the library, the better their circulations numbers, she said.

“I’m sure our circulation for July is going to be very high,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

But the aim of the program, she said, is to keep youngsters reading during the summer break.

“That’s exactly what we’re looking for, to provide summer reading. They’re set for school and haven’t lost any ground. It has an impact, especially on a new reader or an emerging reader. For some, it allows them to become better readers over the summer. That’s always the goal of the summer reading program,” she said.

It also entices others to see what the library has to offer and take advantage of those services, the library director said.

“Possibly they’ve never been here. If they come in for a special program, hopefully they’ll get a library card,” she said. “We’re happy to have them.”

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