PHILADELPHIA, June 12, 2007 - This morning the Free Library kicked off its mystery-themed Summer Reading Program, Get a Clue @ Your Library. Second through 4th grade students from Bache-Martine and Waring Schools attended the event at the Central Library. Magician Ron Geoffries entertained guests with his “mystifying” routine, with help from special assistant the Phillie Phanatic! The Free Library’s President and Director, Elliot Shelkrot, and lead sponsor Wachovia’s Vice President and Community Affairs Manager, Kevin Dow, spoke to them about the importance of reading during the summer months.
The Library’s Summer Reading Program will challenge children and teens to solve mysteries throughout the summer, while also ensuring that they maintain and improve their literacy skills. Area students in kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to participate in the program at all of the Free Library’s 54 locations. The program provides age-appropriate reading and recreational activities, as well as weekly incentive prizes to encourage participants to stay involved in the program.
This year’s program includes two exciting new features--Summer Reading for Adults and Summer Reading Online. In his address this morning, Elliot Shelkrot stated that these “two new programs will serve to expand the scope and impact of this important program, and bring all the fun of Summer Reading to Philadelphia’s adult and tech-savvy communities.” To learn more about the 12 Library locations offering Summer Reading for Adults, or to participate in Summer Reading Online, Library users are encouraged to visit libwww.freelibrary.org/summerreading.
Studies have shown that reading four or five books over the summer months has a significant, positive impact on students’ fall reading achievement levels, regardless of what types of books are read. Each year the Free Library’s Summer Reading Program helps more than 50,000 children and teens achieve demonstrable success in reading and critical thinking by providing a structured, productive, and safe learning environment. The need for literacy programs in Philadelphia is critical. While Philadelphia schoolchildren continue to marginally increase their test scores in reading, a 2006 report from the School District of Philadelphia found that 68.4% of Philadelphia’s children were still scoring below reading proficiency standards by the 5th grade. The Summer Reading Program aims to improve that number.
The profound dedication of its supporters allows the Summer Reading Program to improve and expand with each successive year. Three years ago, Wachovia made a four-year commitment to the Summer Reading Program as its lead sponsor. Other returning sponsors for 2007 include the PKG Foundation, AMETEK, Inc., the Philadelphia City Institute Board of Managers, Verizon, Prudential, and UGI Corporation. Many incentive prizes are provided by in-kind sponsors, including the Philadelphia Phillies, Coca-Cola Philadelphia Bottling Company, Herr’s, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Mütter Museum, Please Touch Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Academy of Natural Sciences, Keswick Theatre, Independence Seaport Museum, and the National Constitution Center.
This morning’s event culminated with a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Central Library.
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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely-used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.