MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
The most successful Summer Reading Program in the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Ga., Library’s history ended Friday.
The reading program, which began in May, saw its highest enrollment to date with 105 young book lovers participating.
“With the Summer Reading Program, we encourage children to read throughout the summer months while they are out of school,” said Amos Tookes, librarian, Base Library, Marine and Family Services, Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. “We provide reading incentive prizes that generate excitement that make the children’s visit to the library and reading a fun experience.”
For the first time, all Marine Corps libraries participated in a National Summer Reading Program where the reading theme was the same and activities similar.
The national theme for the 2009 Collaborative Summer Reading Program was “Be Creative At your Library.”
The program allowed for younger children to participate with their parent or a childcare provider. A parent or childcare provider could read to these Pre-K and Pre-school children and participate in creative activities associated with books selected by the base librarian.
Given today’s technology and the close proximity of nations that this technology has created, it is essential that children be exposed to reading at a very early age, according to Tookes.
“The Summer Reading Program keeps the children interested in reading and it will help them as they move to the next grade level,” he said. “We want to assist the children to develop confidence in their reading capabilities.”
Tookes said the enrollment was significantly higher due to the collaboration with the Child Development Center.
Weekly, the CDC brought children attending summer camp to participate in the reading program as well as their Pre-K and Pre-school children to participate in the Summer Story-Hour.
Tookes and his staff planned eight weeks of activities, purposely leaving the last session open so they could plan something special for the children.
“I had no idea what I was going to do for the last session, but I knew that I wanted to make the last story-hour session an exceptional experience for the children,” said Tookes, a library employee for 25 years.
All it took was an e-mail and a little coordination and Tookes’ last summer story-hour session was filled. Local author, Lara Lyn Carter, volunteered to read her first published book entitled Crusher Field: Opening Day.
The book is the first to be published in a series of six called Crusher Field. The books were derived from Carter watching her two sons, Christopher, 13 and Beau, 7, at countless baseball games and practices. The characters, based on her sons, learn lessons about life by playing baseball.
“This is my first book reading opportunity and it is an honor to read to the children here at the Marine Corps Logistics Base,” said Carter, with a smile.
Carter hopes to get the opportunity to read her other books to the children at the Base Library.
According to Camari Brown, 4, he was excited when he heard about the trip to the library.
“I liked the story,” he said. “I like playing baseball.”
In continuing support of library programs, teachers from CDC brought children to the library each week.
“I think the children enjoyed the stories throughout the summer,” said Annie Edwards, lead teacher, Preschool, CDC. “The story today was about baseball which is something most boys can relate to. It was nice to have a writer read to the children.”
Tookes said Carter was the highlight of the summer story-hour sessions.
“I think the children understood that she has written the book that was read to them,” he said. “During the summer story-hour sessions, CDC teachers read stories to them. Joann Prince, a CDC lead teacher, was outstanding.”
For the last story-hour session, the children were able to listen to an actual author and experience and interact with her.
“I think that was an incredible way to end the Summer Reading Program. She was fantastic and she did a great job reading the story to the children. She made you feel as if you were there. As I listened, I could visualize the ballpark and see the children hit, catch and run around the bases. She brought the story alive,” Tookes said.
One of the librarian’s goals was to get the parents involved with the Summer Reading Program.
For one Marine parent, the library has provided a great environment for his daughter to increase her reading skills.
“I first heard about this year’s summer reading program through one of the base librarians, Clorice Williams,” said Sgt. Phellep A. Snow, career retention specialist, MCLB Albany, Ga. “I was initially under the impression that it was for older children, ages five and up, to give them something to do while on summer vacation.
“It wasn’t until my daughter’s teacher at the Child Development Center, Annie Edwards, took some time to explain that the purpose of the program was to instill a love of reading in children at an early age that I became interested and took the time to learn more.
“Both I and my wife, Yolanda, have been involved and we feel that the program has had an awesome effect on our daughter, Cylishea. She has progressed from wanting a simple bedtime story to making an effort to read a wide variety of books.
“I would have to say that I am very grateful for this program. I feel that it has given my daughter a valuable tool that will open many doors throughout her lifetime,” Snow said.
Tookes’ goal for next year is to expand the Teen Reading Program.
“We started the Teen Reading Program late this year, however, it did not go as well as we wanted it to. This is one of the programs we will focus on next year,” he said.
Overall, Tookes said this year’s program was very successful.
“This has been a great year for the Summer Reading Program. We have reached new heights in enrollment and had a local author read to the children,” Tookes said. “The challenge is how we make next year better. I am looking forward to that challenge.”
An awards ceremony will be held Aug. 22 at 11:30 a.m. in the Bingo Room for those who participated in the Summer Reading Program.
Certificates will be presented to the participants and trophies will be awarded to the top readers.