The Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS) is encouraging all children and teens to participate in the New York State Library’s statewide summer reading programs. This year’s theme, “Build a Better World” is highlighting all things that go into making the world a better place in which to live. This includes actual structures of all types as well as community projects, health and wellbeing, maker projects and countless other things that constitute our “world.”

Children, teens and families are encouraged to check out the multitude of offerings awaiting them in their local public libraries. Activities may include creating, gaming, projects, programs, presentations and a myriad of other entertaining and educational opportunities that will appeal to all ages and all areas of interest. The programs are all free. Teen students in junior high and high school that attend this summer’s reading program will also enjoy the many benefits that the library offers over the course of the summer.

Kids of all ages want to know what’s good to read. Librarians can steer them to classics, new books, books that children and teens love now and will love in the future. No matter how you look at it, books are a treasure. They take us away from daily concerns; they fly us to countries we may never ever see in person. They show us the many facets of wonder – in nature, in science, and in humankind’s capacity for courage and kindness. They introduce us to friends we will have for life. Reading (or listening to someone else read aloud) constitutes our introduction to a world of wonderful characters and people. Summer programs, created especially for kids by youth services librarians, include T-shirt making, group gaming parties, pizza parties and origami workshops, science and engineering experiments for the tweens and teens. In promoting reading as a leisure activity, the Ramapo Catskill Library System invites children and teens to come to the public libraries, make friends, have fun — and read.

Beaches, parks, television and computer games present so many distractions that it’s easy for youngsters to forget about the joys and rewards of reading. Libraries play a critical role in helping children and teens maintain reading levels over the summer, which research shows is as important as the structured reading curriculum during the academic year. Children who participate in library summer reading programs return to school in the fall ready to learn at grade level. In 2016, New York State libraries served over 2.1 million children of all ages who participated at their local neighborhood libraries; a 115,000 child increase over the previous year’s participation.

Let them pickAccording to educational research, if children select their own reading materials, this positive experience leads to more time spent reading and an improved reading ability in school. But with so many choices available, how does a child know where to start? “Librarians are trained to direct kids to books and other reading materials that best suit their personality, interests, and imagination,” says Randall Enos, RCLS Youth Services Consultant. “As parents structure their kids’ summertime activities, they should remember to put reading into the mix. Once children discover the fun of reading for pleasure, they can’t be stopped,” says Enos.

“Summertime at public libraries opens up a whole new social world for kids, “ says Robert Hubsher, RCLS Executive Director, “and, while they’re there, we also get them to try a book or two. In addition to traditional books, children and teens can download e-books to their personal electronic devices.”

As a supplement to the onsite local library programs, a summer reading website at summerreadingnys.org, provides additional activities, age-appropriate booklists and tips for parents to encourage summer reading. To access local library information, visit rcls.org, stop in or call your local library. Registration dates vary throughout local communities.

Run, hop, skip, wheel or simply walk on down to your public library real soon and throughout the summer and find the many inspiring activities waiting for you there. Everyone can get in the game and read at the library through stories, crafts, music and other activities during this year’s summer reading programs.