Beaufort Today -

@ Your Library: Summer reading program concludes in county libraries

The Beaufort County Library System celebrated the conclusion of its six-week summer reading program, “Build a Better World,” with wrap-up parties at the branches.

This year saw a 56 percent increase in the number of participants who finished the program by earning a specified number of points for the books they read and the activities in which they participated.

Summer reading programs are designed to encourage youth to keep reading during their summer vacation. The main objective is to prevent the “summer slide” — the tendency to lose some of the achievement gains students made during the previous school year, particularly among at-risk children.

Studies have shown that summer reading loss is cumulative. By the end of sixth grade, children who consistently lose reading skills over the summer will be two years behind their classmates.

With the program, children are motivated to read. They develop positive attitudes about reading, books and the library. They maintain their skills, participate in programs that further their sense of discovery and learn to work cooperatively.

Additionally, the program encourages parents to play greater roles in their children’s literacy development, another factor leading to achievement.

The 2017 program was kicked off by the Jolly Lollies, a musical duo that engaged participants in an infectious interactive performance. Many of their songs guide children in imaginative play, encourage them to self-regulate and get them up and moving. Thanks to a $1,000 grant administered by the S.C. State Library, they entertained children and parents/caregivers in branch libraries.

Other programming included concerts by kid’s musician Patty Shukla, arts and crafts activities, storytimes, learning to use computer aided design software to create 3-D designs and iStop Motion projects, 3-D printing, Legos architecture and robotics.

Tweens and teens engaged in “Tool Time,” a team-building program that taught them how to use tools and building materials. They also made the community a better place by putting together comfort bags for those in need.

The Friends of the Library organizations provided significant support for the program. They provided volunteer help and funding for refreshments, programs and prizes. Grand prizes, made possible by the Friends, included electronics, building blocks and books.

Jan O’Rourke is assistant director of the Beaufort County Library System for planning and community engagement.