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Longview library to kick off children's summer reading program

By Richard Yeakley
June 11, 2015 at 4 a.m.

Longview youths are in for a treat this summer, as increased fundraising for the library's summer programs will translate into extra features.

"We have been very, very fortunate with our funding this year, and that will help us next year for sure, and also, we want to keep expanding because we are growing," said Jennifer Eldridge, the library's youth services supervisor. "We have increased our attendance so much that it calls for more funding."

Eldridge said the library brought in about $21,000 for the Summer Reading Club, including a $12,000 donation from Buckner Family Services.

The program will kick off with a party on the library plaza Friday and continue through July 29. The party will include bubbles, a DJ and other activities for kids from 10 a.m. to noon.

The Summer Reading Program is designed to keep kids reading through the summer months by giving a prize for children who read at least 15 minutes each day.

Weekly programming will include already-full "Minecraft" classes each Monday, story times on Tuesdays, programming each Wednesday, movies every Thursday, Makerspace on Fridays and Legos at the library each Saturday.

One new change is the addition of a Spanish story time that will be held Tuesdays after the English story time.

Sandra Nino, the library aide who will lead the sessions, said it provides an opportunity to reach those families who are unable to understand the English version.

"I am very excited about this," she said. "This gives them the opportunity to come here and not feel left out."

Nino said she is seeing more Spanish-speaking families visit the library and use its services.

Eldridge said the program would continue after the Summer Reading Club if it is well received.

Another change from previous years is the Makerspace day.

"Last year, we had to do closed registration for it because we had limited supplies, but because we had such good fundraising, this year we are able to open register," Eldridge said.

That means anyone can come and participate.

Breakfast and Balloons is scheduled for 8 a.m. July 7. Eldridge said local hot air balloonist Rick James will bring out his balloon and explain to the children how it works.

The program is in connection with the Great Texas Balloon Race and Balloon Federation of America's U.S. National Championship later in the month.

"I really think it will be a great experience for a lot of kids that may not know about our balloon race," she said.

While many families will register Friday for the Summer Reading Club, Eldridge said last week more than 600 children had pre-registered.

The number was a more than 200-child increase from the same time in 2014, which saw record total registration of about 1,300 children.

"We have a huge chunk of our community that comes to this all summer long, almost 1,300 kids last year. We are anticipating even more than that," she said. "It is something we definitely are grateful that a lot of people see that, and they support it, and we are able to expand our activities."



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