Many Columbia County children will spend their summer days swimming, traveling, working and playing.
Pam Link also expects to see many of them in the Columbia County Library - they'll be reading as part of the East Central Georgia Library Vacation Reading Program.
Normally, the summer reading program attracts a large number of children, but Link, the children's librarian at the Columbia County Library, expects larger crowds this year.
"We have been extremely busy," she said, adding that April's general circulation numbers increased 66 percent compared to a year ago. "We had planned to do about 50 percent more ... just for the one library. ... Our stats have been through the roof, just normally."
Link said about 2,800 children participated in the Summer Reading Program in 2005, with nearly 2,100 students reading through Gibbs Library. She said the library plans to see about 50 percent more summer readers this year, partly because of the new Columbia County Library on Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans.
The program - with a theme of Once Upon a Time for elementary schoolchildren and Extreme Reading! for those ages 13-17 - began May 19 and runs through July.
Link said the program helps instill a love of reading in children, and it helps them readjust to school in the fall.
"It is extremely important because teachers say that kids that read over the summer come back still readers," Link said. "If they don't read over the summer, it takes several weeks to get them back up to speed to where they were at the end of the school year. ... It is especially important for beginning readers who do lose those skills over the summer."
Link said children enjoy summer reading more than reading in school because they get to choose what they read, making it more fun.
"We stress books that they would not normally read and to read for the fun of it, not something that is assigned or on a list," Link said.
To earn the prizes provided by area sponsors, Link said children must read 20 books or for 10 hours and keep track of reading in a Vacation Reading Program folder to be returned to the library.
Link said the incentives, which will be given out while supplies last, include a free game of miniature golf, a pass to the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame Botanical Gardens, pizza from Domino's Pizza, a meal from Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar and ice cream from Sonic Drive-In.
Reading folders can be picked up at any county library and must be returned before closing time Friday, July 28.
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