TRENTON–With the economic recovery plodding along, many New Jersey families are planning to vacation locally this year, traveling no farther than the state’s beaches, boardwalks and theme parks. According to state tourism officials, economic stresses continue to force visitors to economize where they can, a trend that started in late 2007, choosing shorter stays — day trips or weekend getaways — and asking about lodging with kitchenettes, so they can avoid the high cost of restaurant meals.
Cutting back on activities to save money can also pose a real problem for parents who need to come up with economical, but interesting activities to keep their children from getting bored and restless. That is where New Jersey libraries offer a solution with their Summer Reading Program events, offering a variety of entertaining, creative and fun activities for children, teens and adults from mid-June through August.
For the past nine years, The New Jersey State Library has supported the NJ Library Association’s state-wide Summer Reading Program. This initiative attracts thousands of children and teens each year. Since its inception, the Summer Reading Program has inspired and motivated children to read purely for fun, without the pressure of taking tests or writing book reports, keeping their minds sharp, improving their reading skills and expanding their imaginations.
Each year the Summer Reading Program has a theme, which many libraries adopt. This year, young readers will enjoy expressing their creativity with One World, Many Stories for children, You are Here for teens and Novel Destinations for adults. Keeping with the theme, the New Jersey State Library has partnered with the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority to give young readers the opportunity to win tickets to see their favorite Australians at the WIGGLES BIG BIRTHDAY BASH at the IZOD Center on July 17 by logging in the books they read at www.njlibrarychampions.org.
The advantages of participating in a Summer Reading Program are many. Studies show that the number of books read is consistently related to academic gains, and that reading as a leisure activity increases comprehension, vocabulary and reading speed. From learning digital photography, magic and balloon artistry to storytelling, clay modeling, crocheting and yoga, children and teens will find their summer packed with interesting, challenging and fun things to do at their library. And their parents will get a chance to get acquainted with what the library has added for them this summer: reading clubs, family movies, classes, photography, reading contests, local author visits, and all those recommended “beach” reads for the backyard lounge.
Of course, all this fun is designed with a purpose: to stimulate children, teens and adults to read more. Twenty-five percent of children polled by Scholastic Publishing said they had trouble finding books that they would want to read for fun. The Summer Reading Program is designed to help, and the libraries’ Children and Youth Librarians are experienced in finding great books to pique the interest of even the most resistant youngsters. Check with your local library to find out more about their Summer Reading Program.
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