Socorro youth avoid ‘summer slide’

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Socorro’s children have a better chance of avoiding “summer slide” – and winning some pretty awesome prizes – thanks to three summer reading programs happening now through July.

Karen Bailey-Bowman - El Defensor Chieftain: Lily Sauls, left, logs in her books with Youth Services Librarian Britta Helweg-Samuels. Three summer reading initiatives challenge young people under the age of 18 to read for pleasure.

Summer slide is the reading skills drop that happens to children who don’t read during the summer. Lower income children are more prone to summer slide than their more fortunate peers. What’s worse is the cumulative effect – each summer without reading practice puts these at-risk children further and further behind.

Two weeks into “Fizz, Boom, Read!” – the city library’s reading program – 241 Socorro young people have read over 1,000 books, according to Youth Services Librarian Britta Herweg-Samuels.

Any child ages zero to 18 can sign up now through July 24 for the city’s program at the library or any library event. The children keep track of the books they read. Once they have read five books, they receive tickets they can trade in for prizes. If the child is too young to read, the books read aloud to them count.

The top readers in each of three age groups will win a brand-new Roadmaster bicycle, donated by the Socorro Masonic Lodge No. 9. A McCune Foundation grant and money raised by Friends of the Socorro Public Library fund the special events and the prizes.

The city program ends July 24 at 2 p.m. with a reading party and magician show at the Socorro Youth Center at the east end of Sedillo Park.

Young readers can log the same books they read for the city library’s incentive program in two other summer reading challenges, one sponsored by an Albuquerque pizzeria and the other by the state of New Mexico. Readers have a chance to enter a raffle to win prizes, such as a trip to Disney’s Animal World, a hot-air balloon ride with the governor, throwing the first pitch at an Isotopes game and (of course) pizza.

Forms for all summer reading programs are available at the library, or on the New Mexico Public Education Department website www.ped.state.nm.us.

More children are involved with summer reading this year than ever before, according to Herweg-Samuels.

“We’ve broke the record,” she said. “Over 241 have signed up, all ages from 16 and 17 years down to babies.” That number does not include the 85-plus children signing up at the kickoff performance on Tuesday at the Socorro Youth Center.

Thirty adults are participating in a grown-up version of the program, earning chances to win prizes, such as tote bags.

The interest in summer reading has turned the library into a hive of activity.

“A lot more families are coming in,” she said. “People we’ve never seen before are at the library.”

Herweg-Samuels credits the schools for promoting reading.

“Schools have had more reading initiatives,” she said, citing Parkview Elementary’s “Raise the Roof” and Cottonwood Valley Charter School’s “Sound Partners” programs.

For more information about summer reading programs and the schedule of events, stop by the city library or call 835-1114. Visit the library online at www.adobelibrary.org.