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Mon Valley students 'dig' into books for summer

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lindsay Dill | Tribune-Review
K-Dyn Goggins, 6, plays with a train set during a summer reading program at the Monessen Public Library. Students read a book and enjoy interactive lessons related to the book's theme.
Lindsay Dill | Tribune-Review
SPHS Child Learning Center students show their dirt-laden hands after making seeded mud pies during a summer reading program at the Monessen Public Library. The group read a book about seeds, and then made their own seeded clumps of mud to plant at home.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Carly Fitzgibbons, 5, of West Newton makes a craft during a reading program at Lion's Park through the West Newton Library. Children from ages 2 to 10 participated in the program, which included reading and making crafts.

To the kids, it's for fun. But to the adults, it's a way to ensure students' skills stay sharp during the summer.

Summer reading programs are on the books at several libraries in the Mon Valley area.

“Summer library programs encourage school-age children to maintain their reading level during the summer,” said Tim Eller, press secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Education. “This is especially important for children who are not reading on grade level.”

Monessen Public Library

At Monessen Public Library, children earn a wooden nickel token for each book they read, and they can redeem that token at local stores for an ice cream cone, a slice of pizza or a slushie.

They can also exchange the token for a prize at the library, children's librarian Jill Godlewski said.

“I really like the idea of them getting to decide,” Godlewski said. “Having the community here in Monessen be involved — the merchants that are participating are so excited to be helping the kids.”Summer reading is important, she said, because students can learn as much as two months of their skills during the months away from school.

“They talk about the ‘summer slide.' What happens is with the reading incentives that we can offer with the summer reading program, we sort of stave that off a little bit,” Godlewski said.

In addition to books, the program called “Dig Into a Good Book” features science activities, family story time, movies, a magician and even time to make mud pies.

Children from preschool age to high school age can participate, and they can join at any time. Godlewski expects about 40 participants.

To sign up, visit the library at 326 Donner Ave, Monessen; e-mail; or call 724-684-4750.

John K. Tener Library, Charleroi

The summer reading program, “Dig into Reading,” at John K. Tener Library in Charleroi features aspects of science and family fun.

“It's all about digging in — construction vehicles, gardening,” children's librarian Heather Wollett said.

Through the program, children can visit a skating rink, watch a theater presentation and participate in evening family gatherings.

In the reading component of the program, children receive a ticket for each book they check out from the library and can use the ticket in a drawing to win a prize.

About 150 children from preschool through middle school are participating in the six-week program.

“It's a big program. We love doing it,” Wollett said. “We soak a lot of (our) budget into summer reading.”

It's also a crucially important program, she said, because it helps children use their brains.

“It's so important because the moment that they stop doing the reading, they lose all that information through the summer,” Wollett said. “Our whole point is we want them to keep thinking and not lose any of that stuff they learned in the school year. ... This way we're keeping their brains working and half the time, they don't know that they're working their brains because they're having so much fun.”

Children can join at any time by calling the library at 724-483-8282 or e-mailing

West Newton Library

In West Newton, children ages 2 to 10 can participate in story time at Lion's Field along Pittsburgh Street.

A troop of 11- and 12-year-old Girl Scouts planned the summer reading program, which is affiliated with the West Newton Library, said Colleen Martinelli, library board member and Girl Scout troop co-leader. The Scouts worked 20 hours each to plan the program, a part of their quest for the Girl Scout Bronze Award.

In addition to reading, children play games, make crafts and eat a snack. Story time has drawn nearly 50 children, she said.

Girl Scouts selected stories for each week and asked school teachers to read aloud. Each week features a different theme relating to animals, such as pets, the zoo and the circus.

Children receive tokens, which they can redeem for a prize at the library, Martinelli said.

“(The Scouts) grew up having story time but they were the ones always participating. They loved it,” Martinelli said.

The students wanted younger children to experience story time, too, she said.

The program began June 5 and runs Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. through July 17.

Rostraver Public Library

More than 90 children have signed up for the “Dig into Reading” program at Rostraver Public Library, and registration is now closed, assistant library director Fran Rendulic said.

The program includes a reading about buried treasure, a presentation about burrowing animals, a speech about ships and a performance by a magician.

Children who read a certain number of books receive a prize, Rendulic said. At an end-of-summer party, children can write down the titles of all the books they've read during the program.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or