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With community support, summer reading can be in the bag in Delmont

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Mur
Madison Resnick (5) chooses her favorite of the backpacks. the backpacks are available for sponsorship at the Delmont Library in celebration of National Library Week. All backpacks contain books, DVD's puppets and activities for the Delmont Library Summer Reading Program. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Murrysville Star

Sometimes, it can take more than a book to get a child excited about reading — especially when the topic is as slippery as a snake.

This summer, officials at Delmont Public Library plan to supplement books on animals, nature and other topics with puppets, games and videos.

“With this, we can get kids who normally wouldn't take out books about snakes to read one — a cool, nonthreatening snake book,” library director Denni Grassel said. “Kids learn in many different ways. We need to appeal to that and get it in their brains.”

During the 30 days of April, library officials hope to raise enough money to fund 30 backpacks — each designed in the likeness of the creature about which it carries books. Children will be able to check out the bags for two weeks during the library summer reading program.

Each bag will include at least one book on the topic, a video and an extra item to enhance the reader's interest in the topic. Grassel said she would like to include a snake puppet in one bag, a pair of butterfly binoculars in another.

For a bug-themed backpack, that means a safe-catch and magnifier kit that enables a child to catch, examine and release a bug without harming it.

“Some kids learn by hearing, some by seeing,” said Grassel, a former teacher. “But most kids need that hands-on experience of touching and feeling. Then, it becomes more than reading about it and maybe watching about it.”

Each backpack costs between $25 and $30, and the additional items cost between $15 and $35, depending on the item. Grassel said she hopes people with a particular interest would be willing to sponsor an individual backpack; however, all donations are accepted.

Getting the project funded is the first step — and timing is crucial, Grasssel said. The summer reading program begins in June. If the backpacks are funded by the end of April, workers will have a month to get the packs organized in time for the 150 to 175 children who participate in the summer program.

The bags won't disappear after the program is over. Grassel said she plans to keep them on the shelf year-round, and would like to have the program grow to include the library's littlest readers — those younger than 2. Ideally, she'd like to offer 15 bags, which would cost $5 each, for babies. That project won't be undertaken until the library has found sponsors for the first 30 bags.

“We want to make it cool for kids to read,” Grassel said.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or

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