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Green Tree Public Library gets innovative for summer

| Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Green Tree Public Library is running a summer reading program that it helped to pilot last summer.

The QuestYinz program, created by the Allegheny County Library Association through a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, is the focal point of the library's summer reading program.

“We wondered, ‘How do we make summer reading more interesting, more focused on learning?'” said Green Tree librarian Shannon McNeill. “This is something that is really making summer reading innovative.”

McNeill represents Green Tree on the Quest Yinz committee, and works with the development of the game and writing the program.

While any library in the county can use QuestYinz, Green Tree has centered its summer programming around the interactive game.

“We're trying to be an innovator,” McNeill said.

Green Tree's program is open to children in third through fifth grades, and students can sign up at the library to receive their login information. Once they begin the online game, students are given a digital “clubhouse” and avatar. Questions are divided into categories and range from research and reading to science and transportation.

Some categories are specific to the community where the sponsoring library is located. Students participating at the Green Tree Library could see questions about their school district or the library itself.

The multitude of questions, McNeill said, is an effort to combat what she calls the “summer slide.”

“From June to August, students are losing knowledge they learned during the year,” she said. “This keeps them learning.”

For each correct question, students receive digital coins within the game. They can use the coins to buy decorations for their digital clubhouse, clothes and accessories for their avatars and more.

In addition, students use the game to keep track of their reading minutes. For every 100 minutes, they receive a raffle ticket from the library, which they can use to enter to win prizes. They also can earn raffle tickets by attending other summer programs at the library.

“Libraries are changing,” she said. “Summer reading should change with it.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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