The official launch for the 2016 Summer Reading at New York Libraries program took place on Monday, June 20 at 10:00 am during a press event at the Phyllis Bornt Branch Library & Literacy Center of the Schenectady County Public Library. This yearly statewide kickoff event for “On Your Mark, Get Set…READ!” brought together the State Library, a public library system and a public library, members of the State Legislature and local dignitaries. This year, the Schenectady County Public Library, the Mohawk Valley Library System, the New York State Legislature, the City of Schenectady and Schenectady City School District, and the New York State Education Department came together to promote and support summer reading.
Local and state level dignitaries as well as a group of Schenectady school students attended the event. Speakers included Karen Bradley, the Schenectady County Library Director, Karen Johnson from the Schenectady County Legislature, MaryEllen Elia the State Education Commissioner, State Librarian Bernard Margolis, , Assemblymen Angelo Santabarbara, James Tedisco, and Phil Steck, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, and Schenectady School Superintendent Larry Spring. The New York Library Association and many other local organizations were also there to celebrate summer reading.
Many of the speakers mentioned how important it is to prevent the infamous “Summer Slide” and why students should take advantage of all the fun and educational resources and programs their local public library has to offer over the summer. They also spoke about their current and past personal reading experiences, and how reading enriches so many aspects of life.
State Librarian Bernard Margolis reminded everyone why reading is so important. “Reading is one of those remarkable gifts that once we tear the wrapping paper off, this gift keeps on giving. The ability to read serves us the rest of our lives.”
In 2015, 1.99 million children and teens statewide participated in the Summer Reading at New York Libraries program. The goal for 2017 is to have more than 2 million participants.
The kickoff event culminated with Commissioner Elia’s animated reading of The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) to a group of first graders from the nearby Martin Luther King Elementary school. “The main thing you can do to have kids read better is to read more,” Elia said. “Our goal is very high this year.”
Public library summer reading programs are free and open to all kids, teens, and families. Participants can sign up to receive reading lists and information about fun, educational, and cultural programs taking place in their local library. For more information and a wealth of summer reading resources visit: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/summer/ and http://www.summerreadingnys.org/. Pictures of the launch are available at the New York State Library’s Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/nyslibrary/