CALEXICO — The Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center hosted an awards party Thursday for the participants of this summer’s Reading Club, coordinated by the Enrique Camarena Public Library.
There were nearly 250 people in attendance and approximately 450 children and teens that were involved in this year’s program that began June 20 and lasted through August 11.
Reference Librarian Norma Gerardo hosted the event which started off by providing pizza, cupcakes, cookies and beverages for the kids and their families.
“The goal of this program is to instill the love of reading in children,” said Gerardo in her speech. “We want the kids to read because they want to, not for a reward. We hope that they eventually will become used to reading without incentives.”
There were four different clubs within the program categorized by age group, including infants to five years old, first through third grades, fourth through sixth grades, and seventh grade to 17 years old.
After a brief health awareness presentation conducted by Imperial Valley Health Department representative, Rosela Tellez, the awards ceremony commenced.
Children were awarded prizes based on the number of books they’d read. Those achieving the ten book minimum received items such as pencils, notepads and soccer balls, while others reading upwards of 225 books received larger prizes such as basketball hoops, charger cords and San Diego Zoo tickets.
Among the participants were brother and sister Christian Rivera (10) and Luna Rivera (4) of Calexico. Christian read nearly 60 books this summer and has been involved with the program for four years. Christian’s mother, Christine Sandoval, said after two years of participating in the reading program, his reading skills improved so much that he was allowed to enroll in third and fourth grades together at Rockwood School and skip a grade.
Thirty-five percent of the kids and teens participating this summer reached the maximum book limit, according to organizers. Although there was not a tangible difference in participants as opposed to last year, in those that do join the program, the trend has shown many re-enroll.
When asked about the effectiveness of the program, Adriana Nusi, the grandmother of participants Ashley (6) and Allison Ochoa (10) said, “I love it! Their reading pace and level is improving. Gives us a chance to do something productive together, like go to the library.”