NEW CASTLE Getting a read on summer

Well-known county residents will be dressed in storybook costumes as part of the summer reading program kickoff.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Inspiring children to read in the summer isn't easy.
But Adult Literacy Lawrence County Family Choices and county librarians are hoping a grand kickoff to the library summer reading programs will keep them interested in books long after they've left class.
A day filled with exotic animals and storybook characters coming to life is planned for Saturday at Cascade Park.
"The hope is that by doing this, and promoting reading, that will we will have more children reading this summer and more children participating in library activities," said Marcia Anderson, executive director of the county adult literacy program.
The adult literacy agency is involved in inspiring more children to read to combat literacy problems later in life, she said.
Reading difficulties: State and national statistics show that 49 percent to 51 percent of all adults have limited literacy skills that keep them from participating in family, community and work activities, Anderson said.
Keeping the programs family oriented is one way to help those people with limited literacy skills, she said.
The reading kickoff event at Cascade Park also will be about family participation. Any child attending with an adult will get a coupon for a free book from their public library, she said.
Saturday's event is the start of the summer reading programs for county libraries, said Nancy Wallace, youth services coordinator at Ellwood City Library.
It's a variation of the statewide summer reading theme: "Animal Odyssey, Make Tracks to the Library."
Each library conducts its own summer reading program with the theme, she said.
Wallace said Ellwood City children will get their fill of books this summer and can expect to learn more about animals from veterinarians and the state game commission as part of the program.
Events: The kickoff day will give kids a chance to see exotic animals from Living Treasures Animal Park, dinosaur bones from the Pittsburgh Museum of Natural History and life-size storybook characters.
The day will feature a number of well-known county residents dressed in costume and reading to children.
Anderson said county Commissioner Ed Fosnaught has agreed to dress as a mouse and read "House Mouse, Senate Mouse," a children's book about how laws are created. Uniformed police officers will read "Officer Buckle and Gloria."
Games, raffles and face painting also are planned.
Children and their parents living in the city will ride for free on the New Castle Transit Authority buses and others will arrive in real style.
To get kids excited about the summer programs, school-sponsored reading programs have given children chances to ride in an unusual vehicle parade, Anderson said.
Limousines, firetrucks, police cars and classic cars will take the winners from Cascade Galleria to the park that morning.

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