Several military families and their children kept their brains energized over the summer by reading dozens of books as part of the annual summer reading program. More than 100 readers ranging from pre-school to adults completed more than 83,000 minutes of reading. And to celebrate the feat, the Marine Corps Community Services’ Marine and Family Program, held a special awards ceremony for the participants, August 25.
With this year’s theme of “Reading Takes You Everywhere,” children and adults dived into several enriching books that explored three Asian countries and one African nation – Korea, China, Japan, and Nigeria. Every book exposed readers to the basic culture and language of those countries.
Marisol Gaytan, her husband Juan Gaytan - a retired Marine - and their four daughters all signed up for the program.
“They are learning a lot. As soon as they started reading in this program, it helped them think about the (many cultures) around us,” Marisol said.
Given that Juan served in Japan, he felt the program was a great experience for his girls.
“At the time, I used to talk to them about some of the language, I think it’s going to help them connect the dots,” Juan explained.
In total, the Gaytan family read more than 10,000 minutes.
Librarian Amos Tookes said the program has been running for 34 years.
Tookes saw an increase in adult participation this year, with 31 enrolled.
“Parents always look forward to it,” Tookes added.
Peggy Simmons and her family participated twice, and she’s already noticed the impact it’s having on her 11-year-old daughter.
“She’s getting more into it … you know how you get out of school and you have the summer and you’re like okay I’m not doing anything, but she read (this summer), (and) she’s getting back into the groove so (going back to school) wasn’t bad of a transition,” Simmons explained.
Tookes said the program keeps ideas fresh in children’s minds so when they return to school, they’re always moving forward, and ready for the next grade level.
But as Tookes prepares for retirement, this year would mark his last summer reading program.
“It has really been a fun experience … I’ve always been excited about reading so I just want to continue to bring that love of reading to the children, to keep them encouraged, and excited about it,” Tookes explained.
During the awards program, participants not only received certificates and trophies, but were also surprised with a special performance by the Southwest Georgia Okinawa Club. The club shared the Okinawa culture through dance, music and art.