Children participating in the Lewiston Public Library’s summer reading program hold up books during a session. The program gave out some 400 free books to children throughout the summer. City of Lewiston photo

LEWISTON — City officials lauded Lewiston Public Library staff this week after wrapping up a summer reading program for kids that kept them engaged beyond the library walls.

It also sent them home with a free book upon completion of the program.

For children’s librarian Sara Turner, the program is about engaging youth in different ways beyond simply telling them to pick up a book. Reading logs encouraged individuals of all ages to not only read but to get out into the community, exploring and visiting new things and places.

“Every person has different learning styles, and we want to provide accommodations for more than just reading,” Turner said. “It’s about experience, it’s about engagement, and educational enrichment in many learning forms. We want a connection with the Lewiston Public Library to be safe, a place where people feel accepted, and a place where they are understood.”

Between June 27 and Aug. 13, participants could log reading time along with other activities such as signing out a Maine state parks pass or signing out a nature backpack filled with educational activities on birds, wildlife and plants provided by the Maine Audubon Society.

Mayor Carl Sheline said the children’s department at the library has “hit a home run” this year with its programming and engagement. In a news release, he said, “the library is a cornerstone of our city, and I’m proud of the programs that Sara and the Children’s Department have developed for all ages this past summer.”


Turner said adults also got more involved this summer, completing more reading logs than last year, and having book discussions on various topics.

Amelia, whose last name was not provided, uses a science-based kit she received as a prize during the summer reading program at the Lewiston Public Library. Besides reading, the program urged children to get outside and explore. City of Lewiston photo

According to the city news release, one young participant was so taken by the program that her father reached out to the children’s department. He said his daughter has been outside, even in the rain, playing with the prize she won from the program — new “gear” for inspecting insects.

In-person activities at the library included educational presentations on sharks, cephalopods and the environment. Participants also had a visit from Mr. Drew And His Animals Too in Kennedy Park.

In response to potential transportation and language barriers, Turner also brought the summer reading program to each elementary school in Lewiston, where 21st Century and Early Promise Education summer camps were being hosted. At the end of the program, Turner rolled in carts of books to give away.

In total, the children’s department gave away more than 400 new books this summer.

“Seeing the smiles spread across each child’s face as they selected a book was worth the effort,” Turner said. “There’s nothing like receiving a brand new book as your very own, especially if you’ve only had used books. Even in these small moments, you never know how it can impact a child’s life.”

Marcela Peres, the library director, said she’s proud of the summer programs and the amount of interest they’ve seen.

“We hope that through the library’s Summer Reading Program each year, kids, teens and adults will use their extra time to challenge themselves to learn new skills, meet others with similar interests, and celebrate our community of learners,” she said.

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