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Library’s summer reading program is largest yet

Exciting new chapter for Challenge

Aug. 11, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

Nine-year-old Maggie Warren of Williston explores a book during the season-ending event for the Summer Reading Challenge at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library on Aug. 8. Warren, who will enter fourth grade at Williston Central School this fall, finished 27 books during the summer to help the Challenge’s 242 participants rack up more than 167,000 collective minutes of reading. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Maggie Warren rose to the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, thanks to a stack of books more than two-dozen high.

The nine-year-old Williston fourth-grader read 27 books this summer as one of 242 participants in the seventh-year program. The page-turning youths racked up more than 167,000 collective minutes of reading over approximately two months, leading up to a closing ceremony — with a magic show — on Aug. 8 at the library.

“I’ve always loved to read,” said Warren, citing her favorite book of the summer as “Diary of a Baby Wombat” by Jackie French. Her brother, Joe, also participated in the Challenge and said Tom Angleberger’s “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” was his Challenge highlight.

“It’s great to have such an incredible children’s library, encouraging them to read all summer,” said the children’s mother, Alice Warren.

This summer’s Challenge was the largest ever, according to Youth Services Librarian Jill Coffrin.

“We are thrilled with the participation this year,” Coffrin said. “We’ve been busier than ever. Rain or shine, people have been coming out to keep up with their reading.”

The closing ceremony saw several children win prizes in a raffle, in which their chances had increased with every book they read during the Challenge. Callahan Freeman was the big winner, taking home a digital camera donated by a local business; others won gift cards to bookstores.

“Every 30 minutes of reading earned them one raffle ticket,” Coffrin said. “They could also earn free books.”

Alice Warren said the time commitment of the Challenge had been a labor of love for her two children.

“They try to get in at least a half-hour of reading every day,” she said.

For the third consecutive year, Pittsford magician Tom Joyce entertained the crowd with a variety of tricks in keeping with this year’s Challenge theme, “One World, Many Books.” Joyce used a number of props — including magic wands, giant crayons and a disappearing pizza — to wow the estimated 100 spectators.

Joyce also incorporated a number of popular children’s books into his act, including “I Wish I Were a Butterfly” by James Howe and Crockett Johnson’s “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” He punctuated each trick with the magic words, “nothing is hard when you’ve got a library card.”

Joyce’s grand finale trick saw him turn scraps of torn-up paper into magically “floating” butterflies that drifted down upon the crowd.

“The magic show has become somewhat of a tradition,” Coffrin said. “It’s so nice that we can be outside for it.”

The ceremony concluded with a sizeable book giveaway inside the library. Children crowded around a table littered with books of many genres and for different age groups.

Five-year-old Jaden Griffith Gomez — who will start kindergarten at Christ the King School this fall — stood at the center of the literary feeding frenzy and studied the Don Freeman classic “Corduroy,” with a copy of Dr. Seuss’s “There’s No Place Like Space” already tucked under his arm.

“He loves books,” said his mother, Traci Griffith.

As the children left with new fuel to stoke their passion for reading, Coffrin said that the Summer Reading Challenge’s success was evident in each armload of books.

“We’ve had some parents thanking us, because they haven’t been able to spark that interest themselves,” Coffrin said. “The program helps get the ball rolling, and then hopefully we can keep them reading.”