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Something for everyone at summer reading program

Summer reading programs are no longer just for children and teens. In Rowan Public Library’s seven-week science-themed summer reading offerings beginning June 16, adults for the first time have their own specific programming.
Targeted at adults ages 18 through 55, the adult program “Literary Elements” will offer monthly speakers and entertainment, creative reading suggestions, and reading logs with incentive prizes.
“With our community being a farming community, we’re focusing on food science and issues that affect people,” said Reference Librarian April Everett. Monthly presentations will range on topics from DIY non-toxic home cleaning products to the greater universe and foods of the future.
New ideas come often at Rowan Public Library, where summer reading has consistently met larger audiences over past years.
Last year’s youth participation brought 1,780 registered summer readers ages 12 months through rising fifth-graders who read for more than 11,000 hours over the summer, and 227 teens reading a combined 9,611 hours. Teen participation had jumped from 183 readers in 2012.
“I’m hoping we can grow those numbers even more,” said Youth Services Supervisor Melissa Oleen.
For the youth, teens in particular, it’s not just about reading books. It’s about young people reading what they want.
“This is a great time for us to say, ‘Hey, it all counts,’ and for kids to explore without the pressure of asking, ‘Will this meet the criteria of my assignment?’ ” said Oleen.
Across the library’s three branches, at least three programs will take place every day Monday through Thursday over the seven weeks. Youth (“Fizz, Boom, Read!”) and teen (“Spark a Reaction”) programs will feature outside paid professionals presenting on topics including scientific literacy, science experiments that reinforce healthy habits, and the science behind healthy diets.
The town of Cleveland will also have weekly programs for first- through fifth-graders held in their town hall on Thursday mornings. “It’s nice for folks in that area since they are farther away from the branches than other hubs in the county,” said Oleen.
The culminating summer reading event will be a performance by Lee Street Theater. “We are really looking forward to seeing what they come up with,” said Oleen.
This summer’s participants will have the first-time capability of logging reading hours and tracking their participation online. Funded by the State Library, the online component to summer reading will be offered across North Carolina.
“Once we have the software running, we hope to use this opportunity to see if people like it … and whether or not we will move to an online reporting system instead of paper,” said Erika Kosin, library services manager.
Melissa Oleen is herself a new addition to the summer programming, having taken her position on April 1. With help from her 12-year-old daughter, Oleen will be doing her own summer reading. “I’m letting my daughter pick what I read,” said Oleen. “It’s perfect, because I need to know what’s popular in that age group.”
Complementing the summer reading program, a seven-week free movie series will run from June 17 through Aug. 12. Movies will follow the science theme and come complete with popcorn and lemonade. Large groups are asked to call ahead to ensure space and refreshments are made available.
Though extensive, the library’s summer programs share a common purpose. “The main goal is to keep kids reading and to let them discover the joy of reading,” said Oleen. “If you discover that joy you are going to increase your knowledge base whether you intend to or not.”
Visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org for Rowan Public Library’s complete schedule and offerings.

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