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‘Dig into Reading’ at library closes with party

Ashley, 4, of Feasterville and her sister are happy with their cake and ice cream.

The first thing you notice is that the parking lot is packed. The closest spot to the entrance of the Township Library of Lower Southampton in Feasterville is waaaay on the other side of the interior block.

The next thing you notice, as you walk to the door through the muggy air of yettanother too-warm August evening, is the festive fragrance of fresh-popped corn. Mmmm.

Nina Szokolyai, a student at Villa Joseph Marie High School, paints the face of one young party-goer.

By the time you locate the source of the aroma (to the left, in the lobby), it registers that, whoa, there are a heckuva lot of families moving around this busy book-filled space!

And then you’re part of the crowd and on your way to get a “tattoo” or a funny balloon hat or a dish of ice cream.

The face-painting table attracts a group of patient customers.

This is the closing event of Dig into Reading, the Bucks County Public Library system’s immensely successful and warmly appreciated Summer Reading Program, sponsored for the second year by a generous grant from Fred Beans Family of Dealerships. All 18 libraries in Bucks County’s system – seven county branches and 11 community libraries – receive materials, giveaways and special presentations relating to the theme of “digging.” These give library staffs plenty of activities with which to engage the nearly 40,000 young people who are drawn to the reading program across the summer.

Barbara Beans, center, loves reading, libraries and librarians.

But tonight, Tuesday, August 27, is the grand celebration, the big party to mark the close of the program as well as the start of a new school year. Held right here in the spacious 10-year-old township library on Route 213, Bridgetown Pike, its proximity makes it easy for families from Lower Bucks – and beyond – to join the fun.

Besides the cake, besides the balloon animals and face-painting and tattoos, besides the ice cream sundaes, there is the raffle drawing. Barbara Beans, second of Fred Beans’s trio of daughters who all work in the automotive business with him, thoroughly mixes the hundreds upon hundreds of raffle entries before digging one entry from the bottom of the bin. And the grand prize winner of a family vacation at Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos is…Olivia Klumpp of Yardley, a student at Edgewood Elementary School!

The library’s program is not just a frivolous, keep-’em-busy activity.

“Each year, the Summer Reading Program encourages children to open books and read for fun, and those who participate have an advantage when school starts up again in the fall,” says Roberta Yakovich, youth services consultant for the library system and a former long-time children’s librarian at the Doylestown branch.

Entomologist Ryan 'The Bug Man' Bridge wowed kids across the county with his hands-on -- eeeeuww? -- 'I Dig Bugs' programs.

According to research, children who continue to read during the summer perform better when school resumes. Studies also have shown that reading for pleasure is one of the most powerful tools to increase reading comprehension, speed and vocabulary. Unstructured reading for pleasure of materials that children select themselves is extremely effective in promoting literacy, even when compared to direct reading instruction.

In other words: give them access to the books that interest them, along with a little encouragement and the opportunity to “dig in” whenever they feel like it, and everyone benefits!

Enjoy these photos of the 2013 Summer Reading Program, Dig into Reading.

Librarians with Barbara Beans are, from left: Debbie Carroll,  circulation manager at Lower Southampton, Feasterville library; Sally Pollock, director of Lower Southampton, Feasterville ; Martina Kominiarek, director of Bucks County Free Library System; Roberta Yakovich, district youth services consultant; and Bonnie Reeves, youth services librarian at Lower Southampton, Feasterville.