Children grow through reading

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- This year's Summer Reading Program brought many new and exciting ways to encourage kids to read.
   The Tinker Library has teamed up with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and has a similar summer program to all state libraries, making it easier for children and parents.
   There have also been several highlights of this summer's program. The Creepy Crawlers exhibitor from Martin Park Nature Center, Neill Garrison, brought indigenous wildlife, including snakes, a salamander, a tarantula and a toad. He talked to the children about the wildlife native to Oklahoma.
   The Summer Reading Program also celebrated the Oklahoma Centennial, a special story time for dads in recognition of Father's Day and participants also made a star spangled visor to celebrate the Fourth of July. Maj. Gen. Loren Reno, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander, stopped by story time to read to the children.
   There are about 190 children participating in the program and many came without a strong desire or ability to read. By mid-summer, many of the children found it hard to leave the library at the end of the day.
   The weekly drawings for prizes, based on how many pages read, kept the children eager and excited to continue reading.
   "Kids became more interested in keeping track of themselves and not others," said Carla Tubby, Tinker Library technician.
   There will also be a grand prize drawing for the Summer Reading Program for each group on Aug.10.
   Perhaps the most considerable development is the growth in participation from older readers.
   "Usually we have a lot more younger readers, toddlers and young children, but we had a really great turnout for 12th graders this summer," said Dave Moinette Tinker Library director. "The increase in involvement from older readers has been particularly exciting, since reading can improve many aspects in their lives."
   Next year, the library hopes to form new partnerships to expand the summer program, provide new and interesting theme days and get Tinker more involved in encouraging children to read.
   "We want to introduce kids to books and then they keep coming back after that," said Mr. Moinette.
   "After the summer reading program, we find more kids love to read and continue as they grow," said Ms. Tubby. Even though the Summer Reading Program ends Aug. 3, the library will continue Thursday Story Time at 4 p.m. in August and will be making animal puppets.
   Encouraging children to read at a young age has proven to develop language, speech and vocabulary.
   Reading can also be an ideal time for parents and children to spend time together. Children will also enjoy taking trips to the library with parents.
   There are also life-long benefits, children build interest and experience in reading during formative years in grade school, college and beyond.
   Despite the growing dependence and attraction to technology, reading is an invaluable skill and experience anyone, at any age, can enjoy.
   Summer Reading Program ends next week
   The end of the Tinker Library's Summer Reading Program is just around the corner. Participants are encouraged to bring in their reading logs so the library can put their names in for the last two weekly drawings -- today and Aug. 3 -- and the grand prize drawings on Aug. 10. The grand prize drawings will begin at 3 p.m. at the library's conference room where there will be cookies and drinks for all who would like to attend. Participants are asked to wear their Summer Reading Program shirts because the library staff will take pictures to show sponsors how much they are appreciated for all the incentives and prizes they contributed.