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Newark Public Library and Prudential Team Up for Kids’ Summer Reading Challenge
Press Release June 7, 2006
Please contact: Heidi Cramer
(973) 733-7837

For some kids, it’s a race to finish the upper limit of 200 books; for others, it’s a summertime treat to finish just the minimum of five. But for all kids around Newark it’s time to Get Ready! Get Set! Go Read! as The Newark Public Library launches its annual Prudential Summer Reading Challenge on June 27.

"Summer is one of my favorite times of year. I love seeing all the children in the library, looking at books, talking to the librarians, recommending books to each other, and racing to be the city’s biggest reader," said Library Director Wilma Grey. "I always tour the branches in the summer to see the wonderful displays crafted by our staff and the children to reflect the summer reading theme."

This summer the theme in most libraries across New Jersey and in libraries in 20 other states nationwide is "Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales."

New Jersey is part of a national collaborative of 24 other states that selects the summer reading theme, provides a suggested reading list, and offers printed materials to participating library systems, said Bonnie Kunzel, Youth Services Consultant for the New Jersey State Library. "The collaborative enlists nationally renowned artists to illustrate the selected theme. This year we have David Shannon doing the poster."

"We just want to make sure reading is fun," Kunzel said.

"The Newark Public Library receives manuals, bookmarks, posters and banners, all designed to entice kids into the library and to read," said Michele Cappetta, Youth Services Coordinator.

"Every children’s room in the Newark Public Library system customizes the summer theme to some extent to highlight their resources and to reflect the needs of its patrons," Cappetta said. "Our librarians always build wonderful displays. This year, our North End Branch plans to construct a jungle theme to reflect the Paws, Claws, Scales, and Tales component."

The Prudential Foundation is contributing $15,000 to underwrite Newark’s summer reading program, and has been contributing to the challenge for the past 10 years.

"This is such a worthy program," said Rene Deida, the Prudential Foundation Program Officer. "Everyone benefits—the children who find a world of wonder in books and learn to love reading, and the library which gains lifelong supporters."

The summer reading program kicks off Tuesday, June 27, with music and more at 10 a.m. through noon in the Main Library’s Centennial Hall at 5 Washington Street.

"We have singer/songwriters Beth and Scott Bierko performing as "Beth and Scott and Friends" that morning," Cappetta said. Children from around the city are invited to attend the kick-off rally. They get a chance to meet the Library’s mascot, a koala bear named Corky.

"In some branches, entire families sign up together, ranging from infants in strollers to teens, and all ages in-between," Cappetta said.

All children who live or attend school in Newark are eligible to participate in the program, which runs through August 5. The library has designated three reading levels: PreK-K; grades 1-3; and grades 4-8. High school students are also welcome to participate. Each of the city’s branch libraries, in addition to the Main Library downtown, has daily activities tied to the Summer Reading Challenge program.

For a book to count on a child’s reading log, it must be checked out and the child must report on it to the librarian. That report may be oral or written. It may consist of a drawing, picture, poem, a report, an arts and crafts object or an artifact. Adults may read to preschoolers, but the child must report on the book.

"There’s a daily six-book limit for reports—only three can be oral. All others must be hard copy—a written report, a poem, a picture, a drawing or an artifact," said Cappetta. Books winning Caldecott, Newbery, or Coretta Scott King awards for excellence may count as two books on a child’s log.

"Every child who participates in the Summer Reading Challenge is a winner," Grey said. "Learning to love reading is the best prize." She noted that all children who complete the five-book minimum would receive a prize on August 19 at the closing ceremonies. Children who read more will receive other prizes during the course of the challenge.


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