Home Local News Hobbs Library hosting annual Summer Reading Program

Hobbs Library hosting annual Summer Reading Program

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Breaking the summer slide

Hobbs Library hosting annual Summer Reading Program

Andy Brosig

Research has shown students, particularly in the younger grades, can lose as much as three to four months of learning each year over the summer holidays.

Nikki Lawless, library director for the Hobbs Public Library, and her staff are fighting that loss of learning with the annual Summer Reading Program coming to Hobbs in June, because reading is one way to fight the dreaded “summer slide” in students.

Registration for the program, with the theme “Adventure Begins At Your Library” opens May 20. The library is hosting its annual kickoff from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 30 at the library, 509 N. Shipp St. in Hobbs.

And it’s going to be a real party, said Jamie Wolters, HPL children’s librarian.

The library this year has partnered with AKA To Kuro Martial Arts School in Hobbs to host a STEAM event, featuring Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics games and activities on the library grounds.

There will also be a disc jockey, the Wonder on Wheels Mobile Museum from the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, vendors, face painting and more.

And students from the theater department at New Mexico Junior College will be on hand, dressed as literary characters to greet and interact with the children and their families, Wolters said. They’ll be wandering in and among the crowd and posing for photographs with the kids.

“Right now, we have a Spider-Gwen and Frog and Toad,” Wolters said, characters from the “Frog and Toad” book series and the Marvel Comics “Spiderman” series, she said.

“We’re hoping for 200 kids,” Wolters said. “We’d love for that number to be more and have more kids participating in the program.”

To make that possible, HPL has expanded the Summer Reading Program from previous years, adding more opportunities for young people to participate. This year, there will be two sessions for each age group.

Reading Rangers for kindergarten through third grade will meet at the library Tuesdays beginning June 4 from 10 – 11 a.m. or Wednesdays starting June 5 from 2 – 3 p.m. The Adventurers group, for students in fourth through sixth grade, will meet opposite times: 2 – 3 p.m. Tuesdays or 10 – 11 a.m. Wednesdays, Wolters said.

And for the first time there will be an on-line component, through one of the services HPL subscribes to, Page Turner Adventures.

Young people will be able to participate in the Summer Reading Program primarily virtually, reap the benefits of reading and have the opportunity to earn points and win prizes at the end of the program for reading, Wolters said.

The library will announce the specific website to take part in the Summer Reading Program virtually through its social media, she said.

“We will do this stuff in class with them but even kids who can’t come can do the virtual programing,” Wolters said. “We will have challenges and questions for them”

To earn “tickets” for prizes, children will have to complete a variety of tasks and challenges throughout the program. For every 15 minutes they read through the course of the four-week program, for example, kids earn one ticket. There will also be specific “challenges” to accomplish.

Some of the challenges include planning an adventure to a park, visiting a library they’ve never been to and making a packing list for “an epic space adventure.”

Each challenges completed earns 10 tickets that can be exchanged for smaller prizes or saved till the end of the program June 28 for larger items, Wolters said.

“The more tickets they earn and save up, they can get better prizes at the end,” she said. “The more tickets they earn for completing challenges in their folders, the bigger the prize they can get. We have all kinds of prizes for these kids to encourage them to keep reading.”

And completing the folders also earn kids a chance in a drawing for four “grand prizes” at an end of program party, Wolters said. She’s still working on putting together the prizes for the drawings.

Participants will also be offered a worksheet and lessons on how to use the library and about the various resources available at HPL.

The idea is to get kids ready to look for books on their own either in the library itself or through online services including Hoopla, which is offered free to library patrons, where they can read books on computer, smart phone or other devices or listen to audio books.

Completing the library worksheet will earn participants 100 tickets, Wolters said. All the challenges and activities in the folders are optional, she said.

“All these activities in the folder give them the opportunity to get the big prizes,” Wolters said. “If they don’t want to do something they don’t have to.

“But we’re encouraging them, the more they do the more prizes they can get. As long as they’re reading or listening, that counts.”

There’s going to be activities for both younger and older kids, too, Wolters said. There will be “Bingo Babies” for children birth to 5-years-old to be entered in a prize drawing set for Aug. 1.

And for older young people, HPL Teen Librarian Alexis Arriaga has started a Young Adult book club and reading program, Wolters said. It’s all part of the push to improve literacy in Hobbs with the library working with Hobbs Municipal Schools, she said.

“When kids aren’t in school and they’re not reading they’re losing out,” Wolters said. “If we can help make it fun for them and not be boring to them we’ll do what ever we can. (The Summer Reading Program) makes it fun and engaging.”

And literacy goes beyond just reading, Lawless said. In addition to the obvious connection to English classes, reading and literacy are necessary in almost every subject taught in school today, she said.

“Reading and understanding, fluency, comprehension — those are all skill sets kids really need,” Lawless said. “Once reading is fun we want to do it. When it’s fun, it’s no longer a chore and then it just happens.

“(Reading) keeps all of those channels and pathways through the brain working and learning in an academic sense, instead of just video games and sleeping in (during the summer). Youth that read for pleasure do better academically. Studies have consistently shown that.”

And that’s the secret behind the Summer Reading Program, Wolters said. A voracious reader herself, some of her fondest memories involve having a book in her hand, she said.

“When I was young, I read “Charlotte’s Web” and “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and all those books have stayed with me,” Wolters said. “I can’t remember everything in the books but I remember how I felt when I read them.

“I want these kids to really find that one book. Once you find that one book that makes you feel something, you’re going to read.”

Lawless said she knows families are busy and, with sports and other activities available for young people during the summer, they could think the Summer Reading Program can fall by the wayside in favor of other activities. But, again, she stressed the benefits of the program made even easier by the expanded access opportunities.

“Too often we hear, ‘My kid can’t come to that because they’ve got a soccer game, or cheerleading camp, they’ve got whatever game or sport,’” said Lawless, a former teen librarian who organized summer reading programs herself.

“But in all honesty, that cheerleading camp your daughter is going to to go will benefit her in school for the next few years. The library Summer Reading Program will benefit her for the rest of her life.”

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