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Library ends summer reading program with a bang

The New Lenox Public Library gave new meaning to the phrase “Dog Days of Summer” with its Summer Reading Program’s grand finale event.

In celebration of another successful season of reading, program participants of all ages were treated to complimentary hot dogs, snow cones and games, but seemingly best of all, attendees even had the rewarding opportunity to spend a little time with some of the adorable puppies available for adoption at Cache Creek Animal Rescue.

The library had a lot to celebrate at the Aug. 5 event, as this year marks the highest level of participation in the history of its Summer Reading Program, topping last year’s numbers by hundreds of book lovers. Head of Youth Services Dana Russell explained that one factor in this year’s success could have been the school district using the same program and promoting summer reading at the library before the long break.

“All the kids in the school district were given copies of the summer reading log to take home with them, so I think that helped,” Russell said. “We’ve had more participants than we ever had. I think we’re just short of 2,000 kids that were registered.”

This year’s summer reading program was activity-based, so families could log additional points by participating in a variety of educational undertakings on top of reading books. Colleen Cook, of New Lenox and her son, Ryan – who loves “Batman” books, as well as Mo Willems’ “Elephant & Piggie” series – enjoyed checking activities off their list.

“We did things like taking nature walks, getting dirty outside, playing with Play-Doh, and we also enjoyed checking out books from the library,” Cook said. “He got a free book at the end of the program and prizes along the way. It was a good way to keep him busy during the summer.”

Lisa McAllister, of New Lenox, said this is one of the better summer reading programs compared to years past.

“I think they went above and beyond this year,” she said. “... My daughter learned how to program games, my son was encouraged to engineer things with LEGOs. They really did an outstanding job.”

New Lenox resident Lorelei Abrams’ three children, Logan, Brendan and Autumn, all enjoyed reading as a family – and on their own – throughout the program.

“They often read together; it’s been nice,” she said. “We’ve been coming to the library every two weeks. The Summer Reading Program gave us a reason to get into the habit and take out books. They’ve been doing really well and are excited about reading.”

There were plenty of reasons to be excited at the Summer Reading Program’s Finale event. Carnival games, temporary tattoos, tasty treats, and bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles inspired everyone in attendance to get into the festive spirit.

One activity in particular really made a splash, as Library Director Michelle Krooswyk volunteered for the Dunk the Director booth. Participants each took turns throwing a ball at a target that, when hit, unleashed a bucket of water on top of her head. The good-hearted fun truly demonstrated the boundless dedication of library staff to go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to inspiring young readers.

As the school year approaches, the library will continue to offer compelling programs that supplement and support students’ ongoing education.

“We always offer Story Time for the various ages in weekly, six-week sessions,” Russell said. “We have a number of monthly things coming up in the fall, including STEM programs, art club and LEGO club. We also have special Saturday activities going on, and our new Makerspace runs throughout the year.”

The Summer Reading Program may be over, but a lifetime of learning is always supported by the New Lenox Public Library.