Summer Reading is vital

Published 8:58 am Thursday, July 22, 2010

AHOSKIE—Summer reading is a vital need for keeping children’s minds engaged in education.

Over the years, the Ahoskie Public Library’s Summer Reading Programs have done just that.

On Tuesday, 109 children gathered in the Gym of Bearfield Primary School to hear C. Shells, a children’s musical duo from the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. Afterwards, the children were invited to peruse books and check them out with the help of Ahoskie Rotary Club members.

The C. Shells visit marks one of the final programs offered to children for this summer. Next Tuesday at 2 p.m. a Wet & Wild Summer Reading Finale at Bearfield will close this year’s Summer Reading event. The programs are free and open to all ages.

According to Librarian Cindy Henderson, from 2005-2009, the library has offered 98 Summer Reading programs and 7,156 people have attended those programs. During those programs, 10,880 books have been checked out.

Henderson said a unique partnership between the library, Bearfield School and the Rotary Club has led to the success of the Summer Reading programs.

“Our programs are totally dependant on the community,” she said.

In 2004, a fire inspection of the Ahoskie Public Library determined the building could hold only 38 people at one time. That presented a problem for Summer Reading, which in 2004 had an attendance of 1,272 for 21 programs.

Henderson said at that time, Hertford County Public Schools, particularly Bearfield Primary, offered space to the library to hold the programs and the Ahoskie Rotary Club proposed to sponsor the Summer Reading programs.

Since 2005, Henderson said the Ahoskie Rotary Club has become the primary sponsor of Summer Reading.

Rotary Club President Ernie Carter said the organization’s Christmas Ball helps raise funds for Summer Reading.

“Studies have proven the importance of students reading in the summer to keep kids engaged in education,” he said about why the club helps fund the programs.

Henderson echoed those thoughts.

“One of the most important things about Summer Reading is that its one of the very few opportunities for students (in the area) to retain what they’ve learned,” she said. “Studies show that they can maintain their reading level or increase it (with summer reading programs).”

Along with keeping children’s minds active during the summer months, the program has promoted the library within the community, including those adults who have attended with their children.

Henderson said because of the Summer Reading programs book circulation as well as requests for library cards have increased.

The library, the smallest in the Albemarle Regional Library System, now serves more than 200 people a day for various services, including Internet access and job-finding resources.

“Our role is not just checking books out anymore,” she said.