More than 400 children completed the summer reading program requirements at the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library, and were invited to a pair of special activities last week as a reward.
“This is definitely one of our best years, if not the best,” children’s librarian Jaclyn Kunz said about the amount of participation. “There was a lot of enthusiasm.”
On Aug. 21, children from birth through kindergarten age were invited to a program with singer Darlene Graham. She performed numerous songs for the kids based on this year’s summer reading club theme, “Dream Big, Read.”
The following day, magician and juggler Lou Johnson, a Valley Stream resident himself, entertained children in grades 1-6. Johnson told children how he has used books to learn some of the very magic tricks they saw him perform.
Children had to read or share a certain number of books to be eligible to attend the two shows. Parents had to read 18 books to their littlest ones, while students in kindergarten through second grade had to read along to 12 books.
For older children, they had to independently read six books on their grade level. Kunz said the kids received incentive prizes throughout the summer for their reading such as stickers, pencils and buttons.
Julia Cala, 11, a student at the Wheeler Avenue School, completed her six books and her favorite was “The Cats in the Doll Shop.”
“Reading is magic,” she said. “It’s a great thing to know how to do.”
She attended Johnson’s show and said it taught her how to use her imagination, especially his final act in which he used hula hoops.
Fellow Wheeler Avenue student Adam Khaldun, 7, said he completed about 20 books this summer. His favorite was “The Avengers” but he also likes the “Diary of Wimpy Kid” series.
“It helps with your brain,” he said of reading. “If you don’t have a book, you won’t get a lot of education.”
The Junie B. Jones book series by Barbara Park was a popular choice among children this summer including 7-year-old Victoria Andreo, who attends the James A. Dever School. She said she read 40 books this summer, about two dozen more than what was required.
Marissa Nardone, 7, a Dever student, completed about 20 books including “Junie B. Jones is a Party Animal.” She said she read about a half-hour each night before bed, and really enjoyed sharing books with her parents. “I like to read,” she said. “I like to imagine about things in my mind.”
Junie B. Jones is a also a favorite of 7-year-old Samantha Altieri, but she said the best book she read this summer was “Barbie the Class Act.”
Kunz said that other popular book series included “Big Nate” and “Goddess Girls.” She said the library orders a lot of new books at the beginning of the summer, based on school reading lists and what is popular among children. “The summer is the busiest time,” she said.
The library also offered a summer reading club for teens in grades 7-12, who had to complete three full-length books. Library Director Mamie Eng said that 72 of the 117 teens who signed up for the program met the requirement. “That’s higher than normal,” she said. “We’ve had more start, but not as many finish. It’s a great percentage.”
Teens who read three books were rewarded with a mini-golf outing at Hendrickson Park last Friday evening.