Not only is reading fun, it can also set records.
That is the message dozens of children received at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library during the Summer Reading Club kickoff event Thursday.
“Promoting summer reading is what is important,” said library spokeswoman Ann Cocca.
The event set a record for the most people reading a single poem: 278. This was done through RecordSetter.com, a website that lets you create your own record categories. The poem, “A Worm in My Pocket” by Jodee Samano, was chosen because it coincided with this year’s summer reading program theme, Digging Into Reading @ Your Library.
“You want poetry to elicit a strong emotion,” Cocca explained. “We found this [poem] would appeal to kids. We just thought it was a very fun poem.”
Participants in the poetry reading were split into four groups that were distinguished by color. Each group was given a portion of the poem to read out loud.
Sections of the poem were highlighted in the different colors to indicate when it was a specific group’s turn to read. After one practice run, the mass reading was a success.
“It was one of the best times of my life,” said Mackenna Szary, 8. “It was fun.”
The event took place in a tent outside the library.
While the main attraction was the poetry reading, the event also included food, crafts, story time, dancing and music provided by Radio Disney.
The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library participates in the New York summer reading program titled “Summer Reading at New York Libraries.” The program helps provide resources and support for public libraries’ summer reading clubs for children and teens. Events are offered throughout the summer. The poetry reading is one of them.
“We like family-participation programs,” Cocca said. “Especially when all age groups can participate.”
Library Director Alex Gutelius explained that the goal of the Summer Reading Club is to get younger children excited about reading and to encourage older children to continue reading. The hope is that children do not lose educational ground during their summer vacation.
Children and teens enrolled in the summer reading program are required to read a certain amount of minutes per day for at least 20 days.
“As they do that they get various prize incentives,” she said.
The club also encourages children and families to take advantage of their public libraries. According to the New York State Library, last year more than 1.7 million children across the state participated in the statewide summer reading programs. This year the goal is to reach 1.8 million.
Michelle Liburdi brought her two sons to the kickoff event and is a big supporter of summer reading.
“I think it gets them ready for the next school year,” she said. “And it keeps their skills sharp.”
Bennie Liburdi, 9, said he loves reading.
“You get your mind set in a book,” he said.
Cocca said she hopes the record-setting event showed children that reading can be fun.
“We want to get the kids excited about reading,” she said. “It is one of those life skills that cannot be underestimated.”