Summer Reading 2016 at the County Library By Gloria Rojas

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Sgt. Antoine Patton hands out literature and gifts to young readers.

It was splendid to see so many families from different Cambridge communities celebrating the opening of the summer reading season. Lots of activities and lots of food; and books, books, books drew a host of children and parents to the Summer Reading Kick-off at the Dorchester County Public Library in Cambridge. At the community police tent, Sgt. Antoine Ward and two brand new police officers provided the Sanchez family with books and paper police hats for the children. Police Chief Dan Dvorak made it clear that “getting booked” meant something else on Saturday. It could even mean posing for a photo atop the chief’s motorcycle.

Four-year-old JoiceAnn Ross took a peek at the Tooth Fairy’s material and told me, “I’m reading small words but I’ll be reading big words just like my brother.” At 4, the little girl is known to the librarians. I bet she’ll be at the top of her class. Nine-year-old Alan Sanchez likes chapter books, the scarier the better. Aniya Carr at 10 loves to learn and imagine. She says, “I already have my books picked out. I like to read in bed before going to sleep.” A girl after my own heart.

At the food table, everything was just like library books — FREE. Hotdogs and hamburgers, mac and cheese and corn on the cob, a menu many kids could read.

On a hot day, keeping the kids kool and komfortable was a priority solved by water, watermelon, and drinks. And all the while, librarian Toby Gearhardt played and sang his extensive repertoire on the little side hill.

So what was this big party really for? Why all the activities and crafts that engage children? Isn’t summer for swimming and ball games and biking?

Julie Kennedy, the amazing Children’s Librarian, explained that educators have discovered that the vacation period is the time for the “Summer Slide” — and it has nothing to do with playground fun. Children can lose a couple of months of reading growth if they don’t read during the summer. However, if they are a part of a reading program, they can maintain their school year gains or perhaps advance.

To attract them, the library has presented this party, but also a summer program of activities that range from Pajama Story Night to Technology and Science Events. Special guests have also been invited. A colorful flyer at the library provides the busy summer schedule. A special area is set aside for older students.

Another goal of the Summer Kickoff is early literacy, attracting little ones. The library has a very special place upstairs called Cora’s Corner. It’s a charming nook with board books for babies and toddlers. The board books are practically indestructible in little hands and they introduce a child to a relationship with a book. Cora’s Corner is a fitting tribute to Julie Kennedy’s daughter who died at age 2. The Children’s Librarian is part of this important effort: early literacy for every child in Cambridge.

A month ago, the director of the library, Frances Cresswell, went before the City Council and reminded the commissioners that Cambridge had not contributed funds to the library in a long time. The commissioners stepped up without hesitation and awarded the library $5,000.

Walter Cronkite, the longtime CBS anchor, believed that ”Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

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