By M.J. Subiria Arauz
Kalyn Pope had a stack of about 20 children's books that she was about to check out at the Clayton County Headquarters Branch, in Jonesboro.
The 8-year-old sat down and opened one of the books, and the look on her face showed that her imagination had already begun to take off.
The Clayton County Library System is conducting a "Summer Reading Program" for youths and adults until late August, said Janice Arcuria, assistant director of youth services for the library system.
"It is so awesome," said Pope, about the program. "I think it is a good thing for kids to do, because they don't read much, because they are either on the TV, or on the Internet."
Her mother, Kathy Pope, said her daughter has already read 98 books, and that she always advises her: "If you cannot learn to read, you cannot accomplish anything in life."
The program divides youngsters into two groups, based on age. Each group has a theme, said Arcuria. The theme for infants, to 11-year-olds, is: "One World, Many Stories." For those 12, to 18 years old, the theme is: "You Are Here," she said.
The theme for the adults is: "Novel Destination," added the assistant director. She said when participants come to the a library, they fill out registration cards and provide information on how many books they have read, or how much time they've spent reading.
She said for the youths, the program encourages them to read, or have books read out loud to them. The early emphasis on reading is important, because, If reading is instilled at an early age, youngsters develop a lifelong interest in reading, she said.
The program for youths, she said, is available at all six branches of the library system, during normal operating hours, until Aug. 31. For more information, visit the library system's web site, at www.claytonpl.org.
As of July 2, Arcuria said, 3,028 young children, and 862 teenagers, have registered to participate in the program.
"Our goal is to get youths, each summer, to read 18 books, or nine hours of total reading time over the summer," she said.
If the goal is achieved or surpassed, youngsters are rewarded with a paperback book. They also receive a certificate of achievement. Seven hundred, sixty-eight children had achieved that goal, as of July 2, Arcuria said.
To encourage children to visit a library frequently, she said, youngsters can earn other prizes, but must show their reading logs. They can choose prizes from the prize board, which includes bracelets and coloring books. The prize board will be available until Aug. 6, she added.
"Studies show that children, who read over the summer, maintain and improve their reading skills, and they have fun doing it," said Arcuria.
She said teenagers are encouraged to read publications other than the books they normally choose, including newspapers, magazines and graphic novels.
Any adults interested in participating in the program, should visit the Headquarters Branch, at 865 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro. The adult program is available until Aug. 23.
Prizes are also available for adults, Arcuria said. Each time an adult finishes a book, he or she should write a commentary about it, and put it in a drop box. Each week, a name is retrieved from the box. Adults can win prizes, such as books and restaurant coupons.
This program is just as important for adults, as it is for the youth, Arcuria said. "The greatest motivator to encourage a child to read is to see adults they respect reading, such as parents," she said.