For many kids, summer is a time for freedom and fun, but it can also be a time for learning with a program that combines both fun and freedom.
This summer, the Warren Public Library's children's program "Be Creative @ Your Library" was a fun and creative way to get kids into reading.
Susan Slater, the children's librarian, said each year the the library has a summer reading program for toddlers through kids entering fourth grade.
"This year's [program] had an artistic theme and we tried to incorporate that," she said.
Slater said the program brought dance, music and theatre into each of the programs and activities.
The program had both a reading and activity component, Slater said. This year, about 300 students were registered for the reading component.
She said the children were given book logs at the beginning of the program in June and they kept track of the books they read or had read to them.
"A lot of these children really get into it," Slater said of the numbers of books read.
She said in the weeks leading up to the end of the program, the kids brought their book logs in and were rewarded with a certificate and a book and a toy.
Slater said she wrote down how many books the kids read before giving the logs back and she then forwards the statistics to Harrisburg.
"We also encourage them to show the book log to their teachers," she said.
Slater said the library also offered programs for older kids that encouraged them to read different genres. With the younger kids there are not as many stipulations.
"I just really encourage them to read and read for pleasure," she said.
During the school year, Slater said the children are told what they have to read, so the freedom of summer also means the freedom of choosing what they want to read.
"During the summer, I hope they get to explore," she said.
Slater said she has been consistently surprised each summer at how many children pick out nonfiction books to read. The books often get checked out during the school year for various projects, but Slater said many kids are still interested in the summer.
Along with the new theme for the summer, there were also a few new programs welcomed to the library.
One of these programs was called "Woof It Up at the Warren Public Library," in which the New Hope Assistance dogs were brought in once a week so the kids could interact with them and reading books to them.
Slater said they have had the dogs in the library before, but not on a regular basis.
She said a lot of the kids just sat and petted the dogs and some read to them, but many kids came back each week to spend time with the dogs.
Another program that was new that ended up being quite successful was "Crafty Saturdays."
Slater said they have done story times on Saturday, but this was the first time they tried anything like this.
Each Saturday, crafts were set up from 10:30 a.m. until noon and kids and families could drop in and do a craft when they wanted.
"Saturday is a busy day for families," Slater said.
She said it was nice for the families to have something extra to do. The crafts were so successful, Slater said she is bringing them to the fall program which begins October 5.
In addition to the reading throughout the summer, Slater said the activity component is also important to the children's department.
"The programs bring them in here to see the library is a community center," she said. "As a library, we provide many services."
Slater said it is also important for the children to associate fun with the library and to learn that it is a place of learning, but also a place where they can have a good time.
Slater said the library also follows the same Pennsylvania early learning standards that pre-schools follow, which means the children are being taught a lot of basic skills throughout the summer.
She said in the months of June and July, there were over 1,000 adults and children who attended the various programs, which is up from last year.
Both the reading and activity component of the reading program ended on Saturday, Aug. 1, with a puppet show by Bruce Weaver.