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Summer reading challenge kicks off

For June and July, the Wasco Branch Library, along with other libraries in Kern County, is kicking off its annual summer reading challenge.

The goal of the challenge is to encourage children, tweens, teens and adults to read over the summer to instill a love of recreational reading and curb summer learning loss.

The challenge involves reading 10 books or 10 hours by July 31. A free book and other prizes, while supplies last, will be awarded to those who complete the challenge.

The Shafter Library and Reading Center, independent from the county system, has its own challenge this summer, with different incentives for young readers. Details are available at shafterlearning.com.

There are other ways to participate in the fun with the free programs and events the library offers the community, like family storytime with music and singing, lego building, magic shows, arts and crafts, dance performances, sewing classes for adults and bridging the digital divide for seniors to help them with technology.

All of this exposes residents to new skills, ideas and learning opportunities.

Studies show that youth who read for fun over the summer often outperform others once in school, giving them an advantage and putting them on the path to success.

When parents model reading, it helps show children there is enjoyment and purpose in learning. For adults, reading can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate and can even prevent cognitive decline as you age.

Another program that the Kern County libraries provide over the summer is a free lunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, for children ages two to 18, along with other educational activities.

The summer meal program aims to combat child hunger when school is out by making healthy meals available.

Suzanne Beard is a library associate and branch supervisor for Wasco.

She joined in September but has worked at school libraries and as a substitute teacher for over 15 years.

She said of the summer reading challenge, "I went through it as a child, and my kids went through it. Reading is the best thing for me in the world."

Other team members like Tina Garcia, have been with the Kern County library system for over 40 years, and Shellie Ornelaz, who has 20 years of experience also with the county.

Ornelaz said, "There is never a dull moment. There is always something to do."

Beard said, "If we don't carry it in our library, we can get it for you."

Library cards are free; with one, you can access additional resources like a computer lab, printing, faxing and a meeting room available for the community. In addition, there are special speakers and performers, and it's all free.

To sign up for the challenge, visit the library at 1102 7th St. or go to the KCLsummerchallenge.org website. A calendar of events on Facebook at KCLWascoBranch.

 

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