Siblings Catch Summer Reading Bug at the Newark Public Library
Given the choice between going to summer camp and participating in the Newark Public Library's summer reading program, Charles Ale knew hands down exactly which he would pick: He decided he wanted to go to the Library every day.
"That was my idea," said Charles, 10, explaining his father wanted him to attend a school-based camp at a local church. He was one of hundreds of city youngsters participating in the Prudential Foundation Summer Reading Challenge and one of several to read 200 books, the maximum number of books allowed under the challenge rules.
Charles said he cherishes the certificate of achievement he received for his reading prowess and placed it in a special envelope. He plans to use this certificate and other school awards as references when he looks for his first job.
Charles and his younger sister, Faith, 5, both students at Alexander Street School, went to the Vailsburg Branch of the Newark Public Library almost every day since the launch of the program June 26.
"My children were very excited to go to the Library to read," said his father, Olusegun Ale. "At least they didn't sit home watching television. They read more in the Library than they would have at school." Ale and his wife, Olayinka have five children, including Charles and Faith. The family came to the United States from Nigeria in 2001.
"Education is very important to us. It is one of the reasons we came here from Nigeria," said the father. "We came for our children; to give them a chance to get a good education. The Library is important to helping them with their education. It offers a good environment, a structure that encourages them to read."
Charles explained that he paced himself, picking his books or allowing his librarian to suggest a title or two for him. He preferred the books in the Goosebumps and the Boxcar Children collections.
"The kids in these books are always in some kind of trouble; but they always figured out how to get out of it," Charles explained, showing admiration for how the characters always managed to outwit their pursuers.
"It was fun at the Library; it wasn't just about books and reading. There were activities, toostory time, games and puzzles, and movie time," Charles said.
"We're proud of all the young readers who participated in the program this summer," said Library Director Wilma J. Grey. "This is what the Library does best; encourage reading and participation in reading activities."
Faith Ale, who completed pre-school at Alexander Street School and will be entering kindergarten there next month, also participated in the program, reading 58 books. Her favorite? My Father the Dog by Elizabeth Bluemle, the story of a little girl who compares her father and his habits to the family dog. The book starts with the narrator proclaiming: "My father pretends to be human, but I know he is really a dog. And she lists his attributes, from liking a good stretch to fetching the newspaper."
"I read 58 books," said Faith, boasting of her accomplishment.
While the local librarian suggested she read 25 books, Faith wanted to read more, Charles said of his little sister. She chose her own books and he selected some for her. "I picked the Level 2 books, the easy to read ones. She read them all by herself, sounding out all the words, even the hard ones," he added.
The children's father said that the whole family is very proud of Charles' and Faith's accomplishments in the Library program this summer.
The Prudential Foundation has donated $15,000 to The Newark Public Library to promote the six-week summer reading challenge Catch the Reading Bug. The New Jersey Statewide Summer Reading Program is cosponsored by the New Jersey Library Association and the New Jersey State Library.
Newark youngsters, who read 200 books in the Prudential competition over the summer include:
Branch Brook Branch
First Avenue Branch
North End Branch
Van Buren Branch
In the "Teen Challenge," three achieved the top category of 60 books read: Marian Calle (First Avenue Branch Library), Gracia Marte (Roseville Branch Library), and De'Janee Jones (Springfield Branch Library).
©2008 The Newark Public Library