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Take the challenge — #PGHREADS aims to break last year's record of 184,376 books

Mary Pickels
| Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 4:11 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will again hold a summer reading extravaganza, and establish a reading challenge for area residents.
Shown above is an earlier festival.
Submitted
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will again hold a summer reading extravaganza, and establish a reading challenge for area residents. Shown above is an earlier festival.
Even the youngest of readers love hearing stories and exploring the pages of books. Shown is a scene from an earlier Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh summer reading extravaganza, set this year for June 10.
Submitted
Even the youngest of readers love hearing stories and exploring the pages of books. Shown is a scene from an earlier Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh summer reading extravaganza, set this year for June 10.
Music, crafts, food and fun are all part of the annual summer reading extravaganza the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh sponsors.
Submitted
Music, crafts, food and fun are all part of the annual summer reading extravaganza the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh sponsors.
Reading may be fundamental, but it's also fun, as demonstrated by these participants in an earlier Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh summer reading extravaganza.
Submitted
Reading may be fundamental, but it's also fun, as demonstrated by these participants in an earlier Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh summer reading extravaganza.
It's never too early to introduce children to the magic of books and reading. A creative, colorful hat, like this visitor to an earlier Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh summer reading extravaganza learns, is also always a good idea to spark little ones' imaginations.
Submitted
It's never too early to introduce children to the magic of books and reading. A creative, colorful hat, like this visitor to an earlier Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh summer reading extravaganza learns, is also always a good idea to spark little ones' imaginations.

Twelve weeks.

More than 180,000 books.

That's the challenge the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is throwing out as it prepares to launch its annual #PGHREADS challenge.

The library is holding its 18th annual summer reading extravaganza from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the library's Oakland location, 4400 Forbes Ave.

The one-day festival is held to encourage children and families to dive into books.

A Few Pages More

The library is setting a goal of exceeding last summer's record 184,376 books, e-books and audiobooks more than 16,000 readers devoured between June 11 and Aug. 31.

The citywide summer reading challenge will begin on June 10 with the festival and end on Aug. 31.

Books, audiobooks, podcasts and e-books from any source, not just those borrowed from the library, qualify. Planners hope this year's goal will continue to foster a commitment to lifelong literacy for both children and adults.

Organizers are inviting area residents to the all-ages event, which will feature live performances, crafts, games, food trucks and a used book sale, according to a news release.

"The summer presents a great opportunity to promote reading and help people of all ages discover new passions and diverse ideas," says Mary Frances Cooper, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh president and director, in a release.

"Our kick-off event offers a wonderful mix of cultural, educational and recreational activities designed to highlight the library's diverse programming and tools to engage people of all ages in reading," she says.

Combating the slide

According to the American Library Association , summer reading programs can help young children and students develop and further their reading skills during school vacation.

Benefits of a summer reading program include encouragement so that reading becomes a lifelong habit, drawing in reluctant readers through activities, helping children keep up their skills and generating interest in the library and books, the ALA website notes.

Interest has continued in the festival over the years, typically attracting between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors, says Molly Bennett, library director of communications and creative services.

"Really, it's (summer reading program) to combat the summer slide. ... Our aim is to make (reading) fun and encourage kids to read through the summer so they go back to school ready to read," she says.

The program also focuses on teens and adults, Bennett says.

"It's important for them to read as well. We are looking at the whole family participating," she says.

And in an effort to break last year's record, organizers are pushing participants to "ask a friend" to join them in the reading challenge, Bennett adds.

The festival is free and open to the public.

Cookies and codes

Those attending the festival can enroll in summer reading programs, stock up on reading material at the library's book sale, play reading games, enjoy a musical performance and decorate Smiley cookies from Eat 'n Park.

Still hungry? Grab a granola bar, juice box, and piece of fruit from the Giant Eagle Snack Station, or stop by the WISH 99.7 Street Treat Patrol for a free snack between 12 and 2:30 p.m.

Inside the library, five color-coded areas will offer various entertainment options.

• Green area: EQT Performance Stage, featuring shows by Pittsburgh Musical Theater and Pittsburgh Puppet Works , noon; WQED Writers Contest, The Magic of Ray Lucas, 3 p.m.; Timbeleza, Street Samba Funk, 4 p.m.

• Yellow area: music playground, program a robot and make art with tech, story times, crafts and games for children and their caregivers.

• Purple area: musical performances by local artists in the quiet reading room and the puppet show "Leaping Beauty," 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m., inside the children's room.

• Red area: sensory experiences with sounds, tactile images and braille, readers' games with Book Cover Jeopardy, contribute to a community data art piece.

• Blue area: lineup of local food trucks on Schenley Drive and Schenley Drive Extension, including Franktuary, Kona Ice Pittsburgh, Oh My Grill, The Pub Chip Shop, Revival Chili and Wise County Biscuits.

Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy historical tours of the main library and learn about its art, architecture and how Andrew Carnegie shaped the community through his gift of the Carnegie Institute.

Tours will take place on the hour between 1 and 5 p.m. and advance sign-up is required. Visit the welcome station located outside the library's front entrance for more information.

Visitors also can learn the basics of chess and make their own game piece, create friendship bracelets depicting one's summer reading goal, test their knowledge of local history and fun facts, and make a button with images from the Pittsburgh Photographic Library.

Readers can tweet #MyNextRead at the library for summer book recommendations.

Details: carnegielibrary.org/extravaganza or carnegielibrary.org/summer

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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