Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 23
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
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Swimmingly Good Summer Reading Programs Await Youngsters and Adults at Public Library

Ellen Gilbert

The Princeton Public Library is suggesting that everyone “dive into a good book” this summer. The word “dive” is no coincidence; the theme of this year’s summer reading programs is water.

The library’s third-floor terrace will be the scene of sand-castle building, water tables, inflatable swimming pools, and other water-related activities. “It’s a good kind of fun that doesn’t cost a lot of money,” said Youth Services Librarian and coordinator Allison Santos.

The programs, broken down by age group, include “Wee Reads” for preschoolers up to age four, “Make a Splash-Read” for grades K through five; and “Make Waves” for teenagers in grades six through twelve. Adults needn’t feel left out: they are encouraged to participate in their own “Water Your Mind” program.

The two most important things to know about the programs for youngsters, which begin on Monday, June 21, are that registration is not required; participants can drop in at any time during the summer. The other essential fact to know is that youngsters who complete a specified number of hours of reading (they vary, depending on age group) will be eligible for a free Thomas Sweet “blend-in” ice cream.

A real boon to the program is the fact that 49 states and a number of U.S. territories are participating in the same summer reading programs, so youngsters visiting grandparents in Nashville or San Francisco will be able to continue their reading in the public libraries serving those locations. (The exception is Texas). “They’ll recognize the art work when they walk in,” observed Ms. Santos. “You don’t a need a library card and you don’t need to be residents to participate.” Outreach to advertise the programs in Princeton this year has included visits to district elementary schools, charter schools, St. Paul’s School, and John Witherspoon Middle School. “You make new friends,” said Ms. Santos of the inclusive program.

Over 2,000 youngsters registered for the Princeton Public Library’s summer reading programs last year, and the 75 percent completion rate was, according to Ms. Santos, noteworthy.

For the young ‘uns, “Wee Reads” is an award-winning program in which children and their parents or caregivers complete 50 early literacy activities throughout the summer months, receiving incentive rewards along the way. When the activities have been completed children receive a board book of their choice.

“It’s been wildly successful,” said Ms. Santos. Recognition for the five year-old program includes a N.J. state award for “Best Practices in Early Literacy,” complete with a senate proclamation. Over 326 Princeton-based preschoolers participated in “Wee Reads” last year, and efforts are being made to form a coalition that will make it nationwide, said Ms. Santos, who looks forward to editing a manual to guide other institutions that adopt it.

Registration information, as well as some “fluid suggestions” for “Water Your Mind,” a statewide adult summer reading program, may be found at The series includes “Book Talk Walks” on July 8, July 22, August 5, and August 19, with sessions starting at the first floor Welcome Desk at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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