Altoona Area Public Library kicks off summer reading programs

Altoona mom Richel Stumpf’s children have participated in the Altoona Area Public Library summer reading program for several years.

“I really like [it] because it gets the kids excited about reading, and they offer opportunities for them to socialize with other kids,” she said.

The library’s 2013 summer reading programs for children, teens and adults begins June 24. The program runs for six weeks until Aug. 2.

Stumpf believes the program bridges the summer gap, helps her kids “to keep active,” and “gives them the chance to explore different subjects on their own [that] they may not go over in school,” she said.

With all that to offer, it’s no wonder the programs are popular.

“Research shows that it’s really important that children be exposed to literature over the summer and read over the summer because otherwise they could fall behind academically come fall,” said Adrienne Brown, children’s services supervisor. “It really helps and parents love the program because it gets the kids out of the house, it gets them socializing, it gets them involved in something educational. It’s very popular and we have a great time.”

The childrens’ program has participants check out books and log information online about what they’ve read, Brown said. The online tool prompts them to come into the library to collect prizes at a halfway point and at completion.

To complete the reading log, pre-readers, ages 1 to 5, must read 42 read-together books, according to the library’s website. Readers, ages 6 to 12, must read 10 independently-read books.

Activities take place at the library for different ages through its regular programs: Mother Goose on the Loose, 12 to 24 months; Toddler Time, 2 and 3 year olds; and Story Hour, 3 to 5 year olds.

“And during those programs we do songs, stories with the kids, different activities, the parents do stay and join us for that and then sometimes we do a craft or a different activity afterward,” Brown said.

Elementary Club is offered Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.

“And the elementary club is similar to the story times in that we do explore some different literature topics for the kids, different themes,” Brown said. “This year’s theme is ‘Dig Into Reading,’ so we’ll kind of take that and explore that. We’ll talk about bugs. We’ll talk about soil and gardening and composting. We’ll talk about all kinds of fossils and different archaeology topics for digging under ground and discovering things. So that should be a lot of fun.”

Elementary Club participants also get to work on a kids’ insert to run in the Altoona Mirror. The club members submit an original work for publication.

“We usually try to encourage them to use their imagination and to use the ‘Dig Into Reading’ theme or a different book that they’ve read over the summer to inspire them to come up with something for that project, and we’ve had kids do poems, we’ve had them do drawings, we’ve had them do word finds, short stories,” Brown said. “We get a nice variety.”

A family movie, free and open to the public, is shown every Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Younger kids aren’t the only ones who can have fun this summer.

A teen reading program with a theme of “Beneath the Surface” is taking place for ages 12 to 18 years old, said Amy Horell, teen and digital media librarian.

The goal is to read 1,200 pages during the six weeks, she said. For every 400 pages the teens are eligible for a small prize. Those completing the program are entered into a drawing for a grand prize.

Programs for the teens include author workshops.

A writing workshop with Tim Blackburn, who co-wrote “The Wolves of Dullahan” series, gives participants a chance to help write a book. The workshop is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. June 28 and July 12, 19 and 26.

Altoona-area native Candace L. Bowser wrote the series with Blackburn, her father. He is credited on the books as “The Irishman.”

Blackburn is “a really neat guy” and the workshop “gives them an opportunity to participate in educational and yet fun programming,” Horell said.

A poetry workshop with Brian C. Miller is scheduled for 3 p.m. June 12, 19, 26 and July 3 and 10. Miller, a Penn State Altoona graduate, wrote the poetry chapbook “The Blue and White Tent.”

If a teen is into poetry “they might want to consider [the workshop] because it’s going to be a really good one too,” Horell said.

Shelley Williams, adult circulation supervisor, said the adult summer reading program will track the number of pages participants read.

A prize will be given for the participant who reads or listens to the most books or audio books. There are chances to win other prizes as well, she said.

Participants set their own pace for the program, she said.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.