School library hosting Open Library to entice students to read

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COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A school in Columbia County is making sure kids don’t fall behind during their summer vacations. Experts say reading at home is a key to good grades and a local library is behind the effort.

Tuesday is the first day for Open Library Summer Edition at Benton Middle and High School. The goal is to encourage more kids to pick up a book during the summer so they don’t fall behind.

“I’ve been seeing people haven’t been reading books as much anymore and it’s sad,” 10th-grader Will Barone said.

Which is why teachers at Benton Middle School and High School have stepped up to the plate. Leaders organized the first open library for students and families to choose summer books and browse new titles.

With no other public library in the area, “this makes something accessible for middle school and high school-aged kids,” library media specialist Megan Aten said.

According to research, students who don’t read at home during the summer can months, even years behind their peers.

“If you’re a little kid, I think it helps you develop your mind more and then during the summer when you’re not really focused on school and it will just keep you focused on academics,” 10th-grader Santino Capriotti said.

“Students are very very busy during the school year, number one and they’re reading all their stuff for school, all that kind of text and it’s so important to find something that you enjoy, something that really grabs you and that you want to read, like what’s your genre?” Aten said.

Aten is the library media specialist at Benton Middle and High School. She says it’s amazing to see kids come in and have a variety of books to choose from, especially since this library is still recovering from last summer’s flood.

“This whole community was underwater. It was very devastating. The library didn’t go underwater, but in the months that followed, everything molded in here. We had to get rid of all the books and start over,” Aten said.

Approximately 100,000 books were washed away. Now the library is up to a little more than 4,000.

“Jurassic Park Lost World, Harry Potters, the full series, and I’m actually reading Lord of the Rings now,” Barone said.

Barone says he’ll take time off from the basketball courts any day if it means getting lost in a good summer read.

“I take my imagination into every book I read and I picture what the characters are actually doing, like in the Maze Runner, like oh my God, Greever’s right around the corner, what are we going to do?” Barone said.

Aside from filling the shelves back up with books, the school also recently received a $20,000 check which is going towards a new media studio within the library.

The Open Library will be held two more times this summer, once on July 23 and on July 31.

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