Jes Sprouse feels blessed that her entire family loves to read.
But ask her about it, and she'll tell you the Altoona Area Public Library and the Summer Reading program have a lot to do with that.
"We don't like them to stop reading when school is over," Sprouse of Altoona said. "We want to continue to challenge them. ... The library is one of their favorite places to go."
Mirror photo by Beth Ann Downey
Giavonna, 9, daughter of Jes Sprouse of Altoona, picks out a new book in the children's section of the Altoona Area Public Library with help from Adrienne Brown, children's services supervisor.
Sprouse enrolled her three children - Giavonna, 9, Jenna, 5, and Jett, 2 - in the summer reading program last year, and plans to do the same thing this summer. She said the two younger children love programs like "Mother Goose on the Loose," free movie screenings and their time spent playing in the play area. As for Giavonna, the program motivated her to read almost 100 books last summer, Sprouse said.
"If you're not a regular to the library, you may think it's just books," she added. "But there's more to explore and do."
Adrienne Brown, children's services supervisor for the library, said this year's Kid's Summer Reading Program theme of "Dream Big Read!" will give them the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics - from nocturnal animals and camping to adventures, fantasies and accomplishing goals.
"The theme this year allows students who participate to really let the program fit them and their interests," Brown said. "They can kind of apply it however they'll get the best experience."
To take part, kids can either regularly attend weekly events like Toddler Time, Story Hour or the Elementary Club, or they can sign up to Read, Record and Receive prizes, where Pre-readers (infant to 6 years old) or Readers (6 to 12 years old) independently read a certain number of books and receive prizes along the way.
Prizes include posters, books or meal coupons to restaurants like McDonald's and Auntie Anne's.
Participating children also will be able to create a piece of art work to be submitted for the Altoona Mirror Summer Read-ing insert, set to come out at the conclusion of the program.
Brown would encourage any parent to get their kids involved in the summer reading program so come fall, they're not behind and haven't lost the skills learned during the school year.
"It's so crucial that students spend time during the summer reading," she said.
Amy Horell, the digital media and teen services librarian, knows the emphasis on technology and paranormal activity in the Teen Summer Reading Program will have the ability to get through to local teens.
"Technology is how to speak with teens," she said. "They're born digital, so it's a good way to connect with them."
In conjunction with this year's theme of "Own the Night," the library will host a variety of events geared toward teens, including times to play games on the library's iPads, an origami presentation and a scary film festival. The library will also host an after-hours digital scavenger hunt and masquerade party.
"They can just come, hang out, eat and drink," Horell said of the event, which will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight on July 26. "The exciting thing is that its after hours, and it will just be the teens here in the library."
Horell said she hopes to get more teens involved with the program this year than in year's past, and that the theme will help them learn to own the night in a positive way.
"It gives them something to do that's free and fun," she said. "There are some awesome books out there now. The paranormal thing, which kind of goes along with the theme, is all the rage.
"Hopefully, we can spark an interest [in reading] just by talking about what's out there."
Back by popular demand, this year's adult summer reading program will be a bingo game. When participating adults check out a book this summer, they will get two chances to spin the wheel at the check out desk and earn letters. Those who get bingo will be entered to receive prizes, which include tickets to an Altoona Curve game and gift certificates to Giant Eagle.
Shelley Williams, adult circulation supervisor, said she hopes shifting this summer's program back to bingo will raise participation, as they've had up to 350 adults participate in past years.
"We just really like to see-said. "We hope it entices them to just come in, get some books to read and get the chance to win some free prizes."
By getting more adults involved, Williams said she hopes that will bring more children in, too. There are several summer reading events that the whole family can enjoy together, she added, including the Kick-off Carnival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 19, which will feature performances and outside activities.
"It's a free thing to do, and with the economy the way that it is, people don't have a lot of money to spend," Williams said. "They can come to the library."
Last year, the libraries Pennies Project fundraising campaign had as its goal to collect a miles worth of rolled pennies - which would total more than $11,000. They made it halfway to their goal last year, and because so many people brought in bills or other change, Karin Avery, administrative assistant at the library, said that this year, "anything goes."
The library will collect any form of bills or change throughout the summer in a barrel on the first floor near adult circulation. There are also 19 other coin collection jars at various restaurants and businesses in Altoona and Logan Township. On Aug. 11, library staff and volunteers will have a community coin collection, and will be stationed at the library and on intersections near 17th Street, Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue in Altoona.
Those who bring in a roll or a snack bag full of pennies will be entered to win prizes. For adults, there are two round trip tickets to the Hollywood Casino in Harrisburg, and there are mp3 players to be won by one child and one teen.
Avery said money from the Pennies Project goes to try to keep up with demands for children's programming.
"We would love to surpass the previous year," she added. "Our goal is to cross that darn finish line."
Registration for the Kids, Teens and Adult Summer Reading Programs begins on June 18. For more information, call
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.