New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Veronica Gonzales joined Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull on Wednesday as the New Mexico State Library kicked off the statewide Summer Reading program at Loma Colorado Library.
Each year, the New Mexico State Library leads and supports summer reading in over 100 public and tribal libraries statewide.
Last year, New Mexico public libraries provided a total of 1,758 program events for their communities, which were attended by 78,673 participants.
Judging by the enthusiastic turnout in the community room Wednesday, where easily more than 100 youngsters, plus their parents, turned up, the numbers may be higher this summer.
“Diane the Magicienne” entertained — “I may not be the best magician in the world but I’m the best in your price range,” she joked — after Hull addressed the gathering, asking if the library had a copy of “The Cat in the Hat” or “Run, Ralph, Run” for him to read this summer.
“Read, read, read,” urged Gonzales. “Avoid the ‘summer slide’ (in learning.)
“Public libraries offer a wide array of programs and hands-on activities geared to attract children and parents to libraries and promote the importance of continuing to read during summer break,” Gonzales said. “Studies continue to show that library summer reading programs play a significant role in closing the achievement gap in academic performance, and children who read four or more books over the summer score higher on reading-comprehension tests when they return to school in the fall.” This year’s program theme, “Fizz, Boom, Read,” focuses on science and is offered for children, teens, and adults. The State Library’s Summer Reading program complements Gov. Susana Martinez’s New Mexico True Reading Challenge dedicated to prevent the loss of reading skills over the summer.
Elementary school children, ages 5-12, who submit a completed reading log with information regarding the six books they read will receive a “New Mexico True” bookmark and a certificate of accomplishment.
Readers who submit their completed reading log with information regarding the 12 books they read and a short essay explaining “Why I Love New Mexico” will receive a bookmark, a certificate of accomplishment, and be entered to win prizes such as an opportunity to throw out the first pitch at an Isotopes game, a balloon ride with Gov. Martinez or a trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The State Library is also sponsoring a series of science programs at local libraries. For example, as part of a DCA-collaborative program with New Mexico Highlands University, “The Parachute Factory” is touring 25 libraries with “makerspace” activities, such as e-textiles, scratch programming workshops and 3-D printing demonstrations.
The Department’s Office of Archeological Studies will tour eight libraries, delivering a fascinating hands-on peek into New Mexico’s cultural history. The Department of Cultural Affairs is New Mexico’s cultural steward and is charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. With its eight museums, eight historic sites, arts, archaeology, historic preservation, and library programs, the department is one of the largest and most diverse state cultural agencies in the nation.
For information about Rio Rancho Public Libraries’ summer reading program, including registration and prize information, visit riorancholibraries.org.