7960733668?profile=originalAt the Boca Raton Library downtown, children are treated to a special program on Friday afternoons.

Here, Bookworm Suzy Hammer of the Suzy Hammer Show entertains Maggie Dandrade

and other children.

Photo provided

7960733474?profile=originalAmber Prinkey, Palm Beach Zoo educational specialist, teaches children about the Florida pine snake

at the Highland Beach Library. The zoo brings live animals for interactive, educational programs

throughout Palm Beach County.

Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Janis Fontaine

    Local libraries kicked off their summer reading programs in June, but it’s not too late to join the fun. You might even win some prizes.
    The Collaborative Summer Library Program is designed to keep kids reading through the summer. By sharing ideas and materials and working together, libraries get low-cost posters and promotional materials as well as reading logs and achievement certificates for their programs. This year, the summer reading theme is “Build a Better World.”
    Staff members at local libraries brainstormed and came up with some great books, imaginative activities and prizes for kids who read.
    Each library’s programs are a little different. At the Boca Raton Public Library’s downtown and Spanish River locations, tweens and teens who meet their reading requirements are placed in weekly drawings for gift cards when they log their books online. Each Friday, kids are invited to a weekly summer reading rendezvous held at 3 p.m. The family friendly event features a short show — a magician, a special guest, or a balloon artist — and a chance to check in with other kids on their summer reading accomplishments.
    Most kids have summer reading lists from school, and the summer reading program give kids an added incentive to read. “They get a prize for doing something they have to do anyway,” youth program director Amanda Liebl said.
    The main reason summer reading is so important is the summer slide, and it’s not the kind you find on the playground. Learning experts estimate students can lose as much as two months’ worth of learning over the summer if they don’t practice their reading and comprehension skills.  
    “The summer slide is real,” Liebl said. “You need to offer encouragement to keep their skills up.”
    Parents can help their children become happy readers, Liebl said, by offering them books about subjects they are already interested in or choosing books with familiar characters parents know they like. “Parents should share the books they loved as a child with their children, and set aside time for reading,” Liebl said.
    Parents who read are more likely to have kids who read.
    Liebl says her two boys, age 4 and 7, “are both into silly books. If there’s burping in it, they love that.” The “Captain Underpants” books by American author and illustrator Dav Pilkey are popular with boys that age, and the first Captain Underpants movie, in theaters now, is sure to increase Pilkey’s popularity with the pre-teens.
    Also popular are books by The Office actor-turned-author B.J. Novak, Liebl said. His first offering, The Book with No Pictures, became a bedtime story favorite. For more serious readers, the “I Survived” series, true stories about amazing and harrowing acts of survival, by Lauren Tarshis, also is popular, Liebl said.
    Libraries are devoting more space to kids, and all that shushing is a thing of the past. “We want the kids to be relaxed, to have fun,” Liebl said. “We have a huge selection of books for kids and our library is organized by reading levels to make it easy to find the right book.”
    Kids who need extra practice reading, especially if they’re apprehensive about reading out loud, often excel in the Tail Waggin’ Tutor program where they read aloud to certified therapy dogs, Liebl said. About 10 dogs participate in the program, and kids do need to sign up in advance.
     Liebl said the library has added new classes and activities geared to middle and high school students, including the Maker Lab classes where kids learn about robots and computer coding in a hands-on environment. These weekly classes are made possible by the Friends of the Boca Raton Public Library.

In Delray Beach
    The Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Charities, along with the city of Delray Beach Education Advisory Board, have jumped on the summer reading crusade in a big way.
    Suzanne Spencer, vice chair of education for the chamber, is leading the charge to face down the summer slide with a campaign she calls “our social media bucket challenge.”
    The idea of the Read, Rhythm and Rhyme Challenge is to encourage grown-ups to take video of themselves reading or talking about a favorite children’s book, then challenge their friends to get involved. Adults can read with their own children, grandkids, friends of the family or the neighbors’ kids.
    The adults select a favorite book and come up with a short poem, rap, song or other creative way to express their love of the book.    
    They each make a 30- to 90-second video and post it on Facebook with the hashtag #DelrayReadingChallenge. Then adults challenge three of friends to make videos as well.
    Folks who are challenged but don’t want to make a video are asked to make a cash donation instead.
    For more information, visit www.mydelraybeach.com/transparency/read_rhythm_and_rhyme_challenge.php.

What else is going on
at our local libraries
Boca Raton
    For a full listing of summer classes and activities, pick up a Summer Reading brochure at either library, call 393-7852 or visit www.myboca.us/957/Library
    Downtown Library: 400 NW Second Ave. Spanish River Library: 1501 Spanish River Blvd.  Youth Services at ysstaff@myboca.us or call 393-7968 (Downtown) or 544-8584 (Spanish River).
    Summer Reading Age 8 And Younger: The program continues through the end of July with a winner of a new super prize chosen each week. Kids can log their books online, but it’s not required to win. July’s prizes are Finger Puppet Bees “BEE Safe on the 4th!” (July 4); Squirty Tools (July 10); Pixel Sunglasses (July 17) and Grab Bag with lots of choices (July 24).
    Summer Reading for Teens and Tweens: Log your summer reading books with a review of 20 or more words to be eligible for weekly raffle drawings. The numbers in parentheses are the minimum number of books that must be logged (reviewed) to be eligible for the prize.
    The more books you review, the more chances you have to win. Winners are chosen by random drawing. Upcoming prizes include: $15 Whole Foods (3); $15 Cinemark (3); $20 Planet Air Sports (4); $20 Barnes & Noble (4); $50 Visa (5).
    Friday Afternoons at 3: Gather at the library (either branch) for an afternoon show, games and fun.

New teen programming:
   Summer Explorers: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays. July 3: Learn how to build a solar oven using a pizza box and other simple materials. July 10: Comics Pixton. Learn hands-on how to tell a story through comics using the Pixton program. Enrollment required. Downtown.
    Summer Bunch: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Spanish River. Enrollment usually required.
    July 5: Screening the anime movie Spirited Away (PG). No enrollment required but space is limited.
    July 12: Get slimed at this make-your-own slime lesson.
    July 19: Perler Beads.
    July 26: End of Summer Ice Cream Party

Delray Beach
 100 W Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. 266-0194; www.delraylibrary.org
    Earn community service hours by volunteering at the library. Middle and high school kids are welcome to participate in the Teen Advisory Board. Practice leadership skills as a board officer, enhance computer skills as a digital reviewer or collaborator on marketing strategies and materials. If you love to write, a position as a writer or editor of the library’s newsletter might be for you.
    The library has a dedicated teen room for middle and high school kids, where they can read, study or just hang out. July programming for teens:
    BeTween the Lines: A Readers Club meets 4:30-6:30 p.m. July 18.
    The Anime Club meets 5:30-6:30 p.m. July 18.

Highland Beach
     3618 S. Ocean Blvd., Highland Beach. 278-5455; www.highlandbeach.us/departments/library
    The library offers books, DVDs, audio CDs and music for children of all ages. The Children’s Room has two computers with educational games and software.
Ongoing children’s programs (RSVP appreciated):
    Small Fry Story Time: 4 p.m. Tuesdays. For ages 4 and older. Listen to a story, sing a song, do a craft and make some new friends.
    Craft Time: Meets the first and third Thursdays of the month for ages 4 and older. A story and a craft.
    Baby Bookworm Story Time: 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Classic and new stories for ages 1-3.
    Bookworm Story Time: 10 a.m. Saturdays. Classic and new stories for ages 1-5.

Boynton Beach
208 S. Seacrest Blvd., Boynton Beach.  742-6390; www.boyntonlibrary.org
    Building a Better World Reading Club 2017: Meets at 2:30 p.m. Mondays through July 31 in the Youth Services Room.
Programs for kids in grades 6 through 12:
    Teen Gaming: 5-6:30 p.m. July 5, 12, 19 and 26. Play board and videogames using a Wii, WiiU, PS3, PS4 or Xbox 360.  
    Teen Book Discussion: 6-7 p.m. July 6. Chat about the latest YA book.
    Teen Yoga: 3:30-4:30 p.m. July 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31. Angelina Lucia from Bindu Yoga Studio in West Palm Beach leads.
    No Filter Teen Group: 4:30-5:30 p.m. July 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31. Mr. Mike leads a discussion of topics chosen by the group each week. Snacks included.
    Unplugged: 3:30-4:30 p.m. July 11. Old school games.
    Teen Zumba fitness class: 4:30-5:30 p.m. July 11.
    Cut It: 3-5 p.m. July 25-26. Create your own skit, then act it out, record it and learn to edit it using iMovie.
    Brain Food: 5:30-7 p.m. July 25. Hands-on interactive, edible science experiments.

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