The science of reading: Summer reading program available nationwide comes to Blair County

Local summer reading programs are putting science in motion.

The libraries in the Blair County Library System – Altoona, Bellwood-Antis, Claysburg, Hollidaysburg, Martinsburg, Roaring Spring, Tyrone-Snyder and Williamsburg – are offering summer reading programs through the Collaborative Summer Library Program, a nationwide grassroots consortium.

“We do have all eight of us doing the same thing and it really is nice. We can share ideas and help each other out as well,” said Abigail Salyards, a library employee who is organizing Altoona’s summer reading program for children this year.

Science is the general theme for this year’s program and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative is part of the teaching resources, according to the CSLP. The slogans are “Fizz, Boom, Read” for children, “Spark a Reaction” for teens and “Literary Elements” for adults.

The district is “happy to have the opportunity to incorporate STEM programming into our summer reading program this year,” Salyards said.

Participants will have the opportunity to read about the STEM subjects, she said. The library will also offer hands-on activities such as a building project.

The Altoona Mirror sponsors the Altoona Area Public Library’s summer reading program, for which registration begins June 16. The program starts June 23 and wraps up Aug. 1.

“In addition to the summer reading program for kids, we offer some really cool programs for teens and there’s an adult summer reading program also that is offered that it’s very easy to participate. If you’re coming in to check out library books, that’s all you need to do is sign up for it, take a chance on winning a prize for reading the beach reads that you’d be reading anyway,” Altoona’s Executive Director Jennifer Knisely said.

Upcoming individual program kick-off parties are scheduled at Altoona, Hollidaysburg and Tyrone-Snyder libraries.

Altoona’s kick-off party is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. June 18.

The outdoor carnival-style party, which will move inside in case of inclement weather, will include craft projects, a coin-toss fundraiser to benefit the library, face painting and games.

Penn State Altoona’s associate professor of physics Richard Flarend will bring exhibits from A Quaint Corner Children’s Museum & Discovery Center, and student volunteers from the Saint Francis R.O.C.K. (Rural Outreach Chemistry for Kids) group will bring hands-on science experiments.

During the kick-off party, help to register for the program will be available inside the library.

The weeks-long program includes different library activities such as story time for different age groups and an online book-logging program.

Elementary Club, for kindergarten to sixth grade, will include a planetarium field trip and science experiments.

Pre-readers, Readers and Teens participating in the book-logging portion of the program in Altoona can find a link to register on the library’s website by clicking summer reading under the Kids tab.

Movie matinees at 1:30 p.m. Wednesdays during the summer reading program are open to the public.

The summer reading programs at the libraries allow kids to remain connected in the summer, “and it also gives them a way to retain some of those skills in reading and comprehension that they had been developing throughout the school year,” Knisely said.

The summer slide is “a well-documented effect that happens at the end of each school year,” Melanie Ramsey, Hollidaysburg library’s Director of Youth and Children’s Services, said in an email. “Valuable reading skills are lost when children stop practicing reading, and over time this can have a serious effect on their learning potential, not just in reading but in every part of their academic life.”

Hollidaysburg library is anticipating more than 400 participants and has planned more than 75 programs over seven weeks for their program this year, which will be held at the new library building at One Furnace Road, Ramsey said.

Special guests will include “Star Wars” Vader’s Fist 501st Legion, the Altoona Symphony, the Allegheny Ukulele Kollective, JABA Paranormal Investigators, the Pennsylvania Honey Queen and a WPSU visit from Curious George.

Story times and crafts projects for different ages will also take place.

“Our goal is to help students read for pleasure during the summer, and to get them to try different kinds of reading through the summer reading program,” she said. “Reading for pleasure is the most important kind of reading you can foster in a child. Programs can get kids interested in new and different topics, but reading is the way to deepen and broaden their interest in those topics. Reading only 20 minutes a day during the summer can make a huge difference. It’s a great investment for future enjoyment of learning in school and in life.”

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.