- Associated Press - Thursday, June 19, 2014

HOUSERVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Quinlan Phillips grabbed a “Fly Guy” book from the Houserville Elementary School library shelves and told his mom that was a book he wanted to read.

The 4-year-old, along with twin brother, Hudson, and older sister, Ripley, 9 - a Lemont fifth-grade student - is part of the annual summer reading program through the Schlow Centre Region Library.

It’s part of a larger, national initiative with a goal to get kids to read, and held in partnership with parent teacher organizations from Ferguson, Gray’s Woods and Houserville elementary schools.

“It’s something public libraries do across the U.S. to prevent summer slide and to make reading fun, and engage kids and allow them to choose books they like, to maintain and increase reading skills,” said Anita Ditz, Schlow children’s librarian.

For the first time, participants are able to log in their reading hours and are rewarded based on the number of days spent reading instead of the number of books read, Ditz said.

“We think it makes more of a difference when they read at least 20 minutes a day,” Ditz said.

Last year, in the summer reading program for children ages 3 to 12, 39,198 books and more than 3 million pages were read, Ditz said.

This year, 1,706 kids are registered for that age group.

Ditz added that 129 are signed up in the baby reading program, 136 in the teen category and 190 in the adult summer reading program.

Registration lasts through July, Ditz said.

“I think if you’re engaged in reading, it becomes a thrill for kids to do,” Ditz said. “Readers are more empathetic to personal situations and find inspiration in books. It broadens the human spirit and it’s a life skill you need.”

The event Wednesday at Houserville was the kickoff to the six-week program leading up to the start of school.

Houserville librarian Mardi Frye said that each Wednesday, she expects 80 to 100 children to be part of the sessions, which include guest readers and a chance to check out any books the children want.

The first event included guest readers, fifth-grade teacher Gretchen Fetterolf and learning support teacher Carrie Mauk, who brought in two service dogs, Jack and Waverly.

Mauk said it was her way of educating kids about service animals while incorporating reading. She started with the book “Pet Heroes” before she read two more books about service animals.

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