Scant weeks after the launch of the Nassau County libraries’ summer-long reading challenge, Ava Scopinich, 6, of Seaford, became one of the first to claim the top prize of an astronaut’s helmet by visiting 45 of the 52 libraries on the tour.
“I think it’s beneficial, because from an early age I think it’s very important for the children to learn that the library is a fun place,” Danielle Scopinich, Ava’s mother, said. “But also that there’s a greater meaning to the library.”
Those taking part in the challenge are visiting as many of the 52 participating libraries as possible until Aug. 31, according to Renee McGrath, the manager of youth services for the system. The event began July 1.
Danielle said she heard about the challenge at the Seaford Public Library’s summer kickoff celebration at the end of June. “I received the map then, and that’s when we started embarking on our journey all over Nassau County to visit the libraries,” she said.
Mother and daughter visited the last library on their map — the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library — on July 23, and received their reward for completing the challenge. “We did about five or six a day,” Scopinich said.
Participants received prizes at the five-, 15-, 30- and 45-library milestones, which varied according to the age of the participants. Children received temporary tattoos, stickers and soda can coolers on their way to the top prize — the full-sized replica of an astronaut’s helmet. Fifty-two of the county’s 54 public libraries took part in the challenge.
Scopinich said she never would have driven around to visit all the facilities if not for the challenge. She was most comfortable going to the libraries closest to Seaford, “because I kind of knew my way around the area,” she said. Finding the North Shore libraries was a bit more complicated. “I’m not used to driving around over there,” she said. “It’s a little bit rocky and windy roads, so that was a little bit difficult.”
Nonetheless, she and Ava enjoyed visiting all the libraries. “I enjoyed being able to go into every single library and just get a feel for the people there,” she said. “Everybody was so accommodating. Everybody was so nice and welcoming to us.”
Each library hid an item for participants to find in the scavenger hunt that was part of the challenge, and “which we also found to be very fun,” Scopinich said.
She added that she believed it was important for children Ava’s age, who are learning to read, to visit libraries to pick out their own books — “kind of take your mind to a different place sometimes, and imagine what things could be [like] through reading,” she said.
“We go to Seaford Library practically every single day for library programs,” Scopinich said. “This gave us a chance to explore other libraries, and possibly even register for programs elsewhere and explore those children’s rooms and see what they have to offer as well.”
Ava said her favorite part about visiting all the libraries was searching for the treasure hunt items. Her favorite one was Seaford, where, she said, it took her only a minute to find the item.
“It was good [for] me to [become] more efficient with these libraries that we’re going to go to, that we finished,” she said.
Ava said that even after visiting all the libraries, she wanted to see more. “But it ended,” she said. “I just wanted to do more, but, no, I couldn’t. The map was done.”
She said she planned to return to some of them to see the different rooms, like the children’s rooms. She said she enjoys reading the “Fancy Nancy” book series, by Jane O’Connor, and books about unicorns.