Sanibel Public Library’s 2019 summer reading program introduced children to a universe of stories. The “Universe” theme commemorated the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission when astronauts first set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Youth Services Librarian, Deanna Evans said, “Summer reading programs encourage children to read for pleasure while helping to prevent the ‘summer slide’–loss of the previous school year’s reading gains. It gives parents and children opportunities to bond while reading together to help strengthen pre-reading and reading skills.” Children also benefit from the rich literacy experiences afforded by special events and organized programs the Library offers during the Summer Reading Program.

This summer, 307 kids, from ages baby-to-teen, logged more than 2,000 hours of reading. Evans adds, “All of this summer’s numbers are super impressive and I am so proud of the readers. Nearly a third of the children logged ten or more hours of reading!”

Weekly summer events included Monday afternoon movies, Wednesday evening teen nights, and weekly space-themed storytimes. Special presenters included a magician, a professional storyteller, crafters, and several interactive food presentations. Families learned about echo-location with an educational presentation that included live bats.

Deanna Evans led a hands-on class making galaxy slime. Kids learned how to make layered trifle dessert with Library staffer Betsy Eidem.

Children used the new Think Tank to build with LEGO, create origiami, and use Boxer Bot remote-controlled mini robots. Evans adds, “The younger kids love the interactive MagixBox floor. We have a new activity set, to teach coding, and the remote control Boxer Bot was also a hit.”

Experiences in virtual reality and interactive video games ran throughout the summer. Bessie, a bearded collie and trained Reading Education Assistance Dog  (R.E.A.D.)  enjoyed listening to children read to her on Tuesday afternoons.

As in previous summers, children read to earn books for their home library and for patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The Sanibel Public Library Foundation matches each book earned with a book for the Children’s Hospital. The Foundation also provided each participant with a gift – this summer it was a shoulder sling backpack. This summer, kids logged 2,222 hours of reading, earning 805 books for their homes, and 1,184 books for Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Since its inception in 2012, young readers have helped to contribute more than 9,000 books to the hospital. New books are needed every year because worn out copies are discarded and books given to patients can’t be returned because of the possibility of spreading illnesses. Books are placed in playrooms, hospital waiting rooms, and certified teacher Garrett Gablehouse incorporates them into lessons for children checked into the hospital.

The Sanibel Public Library Foundation, along with the Joan Hunt Cory Children’s Fund, underwrites the annual summer reading program. The Children’s Fund was established in 2008 to honor longtime library volunteer and supporter Joan Hunt Cory.

The Sanibel Public Library Foundation provides, supports, and supplements library services of Sanibel and assists in the promotion of reading and literacy. Since 2006 the Foundation has provided close to $1 million to fund Library Author Series; the annual youth Summer Reading Program; a TeenSpace Room; and technology initiatives including cutting edge computer hardware and software; youth early literacy computers; small business development eBooks; genealogy research stations; children’s eBooks; Sanibel Public Library mobile app; and more.

For more information about the Foundation or to make a donation, call the Library at (239) 472-2483.

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