Elmont, F.S. libraries launch summer reading challenge


Libraries all across the country kicked off their summer reading challenge last week, and the Elmont Memorial Library and Franklin Square Public Library have joined in the collaborative reading program.

In Franklin Square, children gathered on Tuesday afternoon to paint river rocks with what Head Children’s Librarian Faye Lieberman called “inspirational messages” of kindness and self-affirmation that were then displayed outside the library.

Registration for the summer challenge began in Elmont last Saturday.

The program, which runs until Aug. 4 at the Elmont Library and through Aug. 17 in Franklin Square, will follow the same “Libraries Rock!” theme as at other libraries across the state and nation. The challenge is not only intended to promote literacy among young people; it is also meant to foster an enjoyment of reading as an entertaining alternative to video games and other electronic diversions. The programs at the two libraries are open to everyone, from preschoolers to adults, and include prizes, parties and pets, Lieberman said.

Young people from preschool age through seventh grade are asked to read at least eight books before the end of the challenge; junior and senior high school students and adults are asked to read four books in order to complete the program. The program in Franklin Square doe not have a reading list of suggested books, according to Teen Librarian Erin Bach, although new arrivals and popular works are displayed and librarians are available to make recommendations. “The children read books they choose themselves,” she said.

“Younger children read more books, because the books are shorter,” Lieberman said. Longer works, such as the still-popular “Harry Potter” novels, count as more than one title because of their length.

Participants will write down the titles of the books they have read and will receive one ticket for each book. At the end of the challenge, a raffle will be held for prizes that include an iPad, Lieberman said.

More than 400 children from preschool through seventh grade participated in last summer’s challenge, Lieberman said. Figures on teen and adult participation were not available, but the numbers were “significant.”

Elmont participants in the challenge write down the names of their books and the play games designed to share their comprehension of their reading, Elmont Children’s Librarian Gloria Romano said. “We ask them about their favorite characters, the setting, the language.” They might be asked to act out dialogue or imagine themselves in the books’ settings, she said.

The Elmont Library challenge does not include a raffle — “We’ve had some issues with that,” Romano said — but the program will end with a celebration and candy bingo.

The summer challenge also has the active support and encouragement of Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, Democrat of Valley Stream, who held a “Summer Reading Hour” to help spur the challenge and “foster literacy and a love of reading.” Solages said she wanted to encourage children and young adults throughout her district to read for at least 15 to 20 minutes a day. “Students who show their participation at the end of the summer will receive a certificate and be invited to a party at the Elmont Library in September,” she said.

Solages credited climate control for at least some of her love of books. As a child, “we didn’t have air-conditioning at home,” she said, “and the library next door was air-conditioned. I spent the whole summer reading in the library.”