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Library Kicks Off Teen Reading Club

Getting a kid to crack a book in the summertime can be a daunting task.

However, pages are turning at the Massapequa Public Library, which recently launched its latest Teen Summer Reading Program with a party held in the courtyard of their Central Avenue building.

Peter Cirona, the Young Adult Services librarian, has been running the program for the past 11 years, and says that, among the other teen programs offered at the library—including board and video gaming, crafts, and more—the reading program is especially important from an educational standpoint.

“We’re trying to get the kids to keep the skills that they learned during the school year,” he said. “We want to keep them from regressing from over the summer.”

Cirona said that the Teen Summer Reading Program keeps the atmosphere relaxed, eschewing rigid reading lists in favor of a more free-form approach to getting kids to flip through a tome or two.

“The kids can read whatever they want, and each time they finish a book, they can submit a review,” he said. “The kids are eligible for weekly prizes, including Barnes and Noble gift cards, and if they submit at least ten reviews, then they’re eligible for the grand prize at the closing party in early September—a color Nook e-reader.”

Cirona noted that, while turnout on average is generally less than the library initially hopes for, there has been a growing trend in recent years; each summer seems to attract more kids eager to read.

“This year we broke our old record...we’ve had 70 pre-registrants so far,” he said. “However, kids can join the program at any time. By the end of the summer, I’m hoping to have at least 100 kids involved.”

The kick-off party attracted a crowd of teens and tweens, all ready to tear into some heavy summer reading. Refreshments were available, including pizza, cookies, and soft drinks. A DJ from Too Extreme Entertainment of Long Beach kept the tunes flowing.

Janis A. Schoen, director of the Massapequa Public Library, praised the work Cirona has done since he came on as Young Adult Services librarian in 2002.

“Peter really works so hard, and the kids are very excited once the program starts,” she said. “The kids are doing great, and it’s really amazing to get them to read as much as Peter does.”

Craig Elliott, 11, participated in the library’s reading club for juniors previously; he was clearly enthusiastic about being old enough to move up to the Young Adult program this summer.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” he said. “I’m a pretty big reader...I already have some books picked out, and I’ve already read four and I’ll be writing reports on all of them...I’m going for that Nook!”

Sasha Pena, 17, has been involved in the Summer Reading program for several years now, and has polished off an astonishing number of books in that time.

“I manage to read through 120 books per summer...I read two books a day,” she said. “I really enjoy participating in the book club here because it’s fun knowing that other people are reading instead of watching TV or playing video games...there’s more people you can relate to.”