By Johnny Jackson
Henry County Public Library officials are working hard to promote reading among local youths, through a summer reading program designed to appeal to both younger children and teens.
"We're looking for children to find a love of reading," said Tracy Ralston, the library system's children's coordinator.
"I just want to encourage children to keep reading," Ralston said. "I don't want them to spend their entire summer just sitting in front of the TV screen, and playing video games."
Ralston said the effort, known as the Vacation Reading Program, is available at all five county library branches. Registration for the program starts June 1, and will continue until June 30. The program runs until July 31.
"We are hoping for a greater participation than last year," said Ralston. The library system registered 4,433 young children and teens, in last summer's program.
"The children's specialists at each branch [in Henry County] have been visiting local schools this year, telling children about the program," Ralston said. "People don't have a lot of money to go out and do all of the things that they want to do now, because of the economy, but we offer our activities for free."
The 2010 Vacation Reading Program includes a "Make a Splash Read @ Your Library" schedule of activities for young children, and a "Make Waves @ Your Library" schedule for teens, 13 to 18 years old.
Ralston noted that any PINES library cardholder may participate in the program at any, or all, of the library branches in Henry County.
Ralston said this year's added incentives for taking part in the "Make a Splash Read @ Your Library" activities are that children who successfully meet the program's goals by the end of the program, will receive a free book and a certificate of completion.
"Make a Splash Read @ Your Library" participants, who read 20 books, or read for 10 hours, will receive a prize after filling out, and turning in, their logs to the library.
"Make Waves @ Your Library" participants, who read three books, or a total of 20 hours, will be eligible for a prize. All participants will receive a log sheet and a gift bag.
"Teachers are on vacation, so we become literary caregivers," said Debbie Zerkle, children's specialist at the McDonough Public Library. "We want to keep kids reading all year long and make reading fun."
For more information, or for a calendar of events, visit www.henry.public.lib.ga.us.