Monday, June 08, 2009

New York State Library Launches 2009 Statewide Summer Reading Program

*Students Urged to “Be Creative” at Their Local Library*

The New York State Library launched the 2009 New York Statewide Summer Reading Program at an event in the New York State Museum, Albany. The annual free program is offered in more than 1,100 public libraries and branch libraries throughout the state. In eight years, participation has increased by 300 percent, with more than 1.5 million participants last year.

Jeffrey W. Cannell, Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Education for the New York State Education Department, introduced New York State Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills, who kicked off the event with remarks about the role and importance of summer reading programs at public libraries in preparing our youth for success in an ever-
changing world.

“These days, families can’t afford to buy all the books they might want to read,” said Commissioner Mills. “Kids today need arm loads of books—not just for learning, but for inspiring their creative minds, and just to pass the time on a summer day.” Mills noted that the New York Statewide Summer Reading Program has grown significantly over the past decade, reaching more than 1.5 million children at more than 1,100 sites. “Our Summer Reading Program is helping to keep books—and the local public library—at the center of a child’s summer life”.

“In these economically challenging times, more and more families are seeking ways to involve and challenge their children with summer activities that are fun, inspiring and engaging, while not straining the family budget,” said Cannell, featured speaker at this event. “Public libraries offer great resources for kids throughout the
summer, and the New York Statewide Summer Reading Program offers ways for kids of all ages to be creative at their local libraries.”

Community libraries continue to play a major role in fostering literacy, especially for those most in need of assistance in developing literacy skills, according to a 2001 study by the Pennsylvania Library Association. The study also concluded that public library reading programs play an important role in the overall reading
achievement of children who otherwise lack access to books and other reading materials in their daily lives.

Cannell then announced two new summer reading themes for this year— Express Yourself @ Your Library for teens and Be Creative @ Your Library for children—and unveiled one of two Summer Reading public service announcements. Created by Frank and Caroline Mouris, celebrated and award-winning animators, “Be Creative at Your Library” uses playful illustrations of children’s book illustrator David Catrow. Frank and Caroline Mouris then presented a talk about how they created their spot using their signature collage style of animation, and how they collaborated with musician Kevin Bartlett in creating the spot’s sound track.

The program is implemented in libraries across New York State, and results are often measured in number of books read or time spent reading. In addition, individual libraries offer their own programs to add to the fun of summer reading and encourage visits to the public library. “The New York Statewide Summer Reading Program helps improve reading capabilities over the summer, which in turn leads to achievement advances in the next school year,” said Commissioner Mills.

A recent study by children’s publisher Scholastic found that 22 percent of children rarely or never read for fun, and that percentage increases as the child ages. In addition, approximately 25 percent of children polled indicate that they have trouble finding books that they would actually want to read. Public library summer reading programs combat this trend.

There are many resources available for librarians, parents, educators, children and teens at the program’s web site, Visitors can access promotional flyers, fact sheets, tip sheets, recommended web site links, book lists and reading-related puzzles, games and activities.

New York State partners with 46 other states as part of the national Collaborative Summer Library Program to share best practices and ideas for program goals, activities and themes. The New York Statewide Summer Reading Program is a program of the New York State Library in the Office of Cultural Education in the New York State Education Department and is funded through the Federal Library Services and
Technology Act, with funds awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

To view an image of all the presenters at the Kick-off event visit the New York Statewide Summer Reading Program site.

For additional information about 2009 Statewide summer Reading Program please contact:
Karen Balsen
Coordinator of the New York Statewide Summer Reading Program
New York State Library
New York State Education Department
Albany, NY 12230

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