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July 23, 2013

N.H. summer reading program sees big numbers

Libraries report high attendance in statewide reading program

While the unpredictable weather has put many summer activities on hold, at least program is busier — and more popular — than ever.

Local libraries are seeing big numbers in this year’s summer reading program. With an underground theme, kids and adults are flocking to libraries and participating in the events they have to offer.

“Our programs have been filled,” said Carl Heidenblad, director of Nesmith Library in Windham. “Several times, people haven’t been able to find a place to park because our programs are so full.”

The activities are designed around three themes, created by the Collective Summer Library Program, a national organization. The children’s program is called “Dig Into Reading,” teens participate in “Beneath the Surface” and adults enjoy “Groundbreaking Reads.”

“The biggest age groups we see are between 8 and 10,” said Ann Hoey, youth services director for New Hampshire State Library. “So far this year, libraries are reporting a high attendance.”

Hoey said more than 20,000 people participated in last year’s program in New Hampshire — and she expects more this year.

“Libraries are reporting very high attendance,” she said. “There has been some unattractive weather and people come to the library to get cool.”

Libraries track not only how many people are participating, but how much and how long they are reading. Last year, more than 221,000 books were read over 169 million minutes.

In Derry, readers who reach 100 books or 50 hours are entered into drawings for prizes.

“We’ve had about 300 of our 600 people registered reach that mark already, which is phenomenal,” said Evan Bush, head of children’s services at Derry Public Library.

Bush has taken the theme and put his own twist on it, narrowing it down to focus primarily on Egypt.

“We’ve created an Egyptian children’s museum,” he said. “Kids have made hieroglyphs, pyramids and reproduced a mummy.”

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