Now that school is out for the summer, Annmarie McAnany, children’s librarian at Sloatsburg Public Library, kicks it up a gear as the summer reading season starts. For more than a few years now McAnany has been a literacy pied piper, building up the Sloatsburg Library’s annual summer reading program into a well-attended, active community outreach initiative that draws in elementary age students from across the village.
“Last year we had 180 kids involved in the Summer Reading program,” McAnany said. “There were some 3,200 books read and I’m hoping to try and beat that this year. Every year I try to beat our record and encourage the kids to read a little more.”
With the help of sponsors such as the Friends of the Sloatsburg Library, McAnany has developed a unique incentive device, which draws students to read and compete for prizes — nice prizes such as a tablet, mp3 player and HD video camera.
“Since I started the grand prize program,” McAnany said, who herself remembers participating in the Sloatsburg Library Summer Reading Program as a kid, “a lot of parents have come in and said that the kids absolutely love it. It’s been encouraging them to read more.”
This year’s kick-off features the Jester Jim Show, a high energy performance by the young juggling ace who blends together comedy, magic, and beat boxing to crowds across the state. Jester Jim is currently on a barn burner tour of libraries throughout the Mid-Atlantic region kicking off their own summer reading programs. The Jester visited some 72 libraries last summer and earned rave reviews as well as being voted Best Family Entertainment by the Boy Scouts of America.
Sloatsburg joins some 1,100 other local libraries throughout New York State that take part in the summer reading initiative, which is funded in part through the Federal Library Services and Technology Act, with funds awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The New York State Library is a program of the Office of Cultural Education in the New York State Education Department.
The program brings children and families into local public libraries for reading and activities, with the State Library coordinating the program among the state’s 23 library systems by providing a summer reading theme, promotional materials, a creative idea manual, and state-level support.
This summer’s theme is Dream Big READ!, aimed at elementary school kids, and Own the Night, a tween and teen oriented reading program. McAnany said that this year Sloatsburg is participating in the teen effort.
“We don’t normally target this audience because it’s very hard to get the kids in,” said McAnany, describing one of the program’s features as a nationwide teen lock-in where libraries across the country host a teen night. “My program will be a ghost hunting in the library,” she said. “It’s going to be a couple of hours on a Friday night after we’re closed where I have a ghost detective and a ghost investigator come.” McAnany said that, if approved, the ghost hunt will teach the teens about all the different technological tools used in the industry as well as show various photographic evidence of cases the ghost hunters have worked on.
“And then, hopefully, they’ll do their own investigation of the library,” said McAnany.
McAnany has shepherded many a Sloatsburg student through the reading program and probably knows nearly every student in the village. “It’s definitely a vital part of the library,” she said. “That’s where we get most business from, the kids coming in during the summer. There are a lot of kids who don’t come in except in the summer and they end up having a love of reading because the summer reading program encouraged them. ”
The Sloatsburg Public Library Summer Reading Kick-Off Party takes place Monday, June 25 @ 11:00 a.m. and features Jester Jim and Boulder Bird, the Rockland Boulders’ mascot. For more information, call the Sloatsburg Public Library at 845-753-2001.