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July 4, 2012
By Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Troth

CAMP CASEY South Korea -- The Department of Defense summer reading program kicked off in Area I June 28 with a book reading and pizza party at Camp Casey's Gateway Club.

Almost 200 children and their parents crowded around the stage as Raymond Myers, U.S. Army Garrison Casey's deputy to the garrison commander, got the party started with a reading of "The Cow Loves Cookies."

Being able to use the Gateway Club was a help to the library.

"It is great that we are able to use the Gateway Club to kick off this year's summer reading program," said Tracey Klippert, supervisory librarian for the Casey enclave libraries. "We don't have anywhere near enough room at the library for this many people."

Those in attendance weren't just American children and parents.

Korean students from the Bosan Elementary School in Dongducheon joined the gathering and entertained them with a traditional drum-and-cymbal performance.

After a lunch of pizza and pasta, the Koreans gave the American students lessons on their instruments.

The purpose of the day was not forgotten by those at the party as everyone was adorned in t-shirts that bore this year's theme: "Reading is so Delicious."

"I love reading and I plan on reading as many books as I can this summer," said Alanna Hunter, who will be entering ninth grade in the fall. "I can't remember who told me this, but reading makes you smarter. No matter what you are reading it makes you smarter."

"There have been studies that have shown that children who read over the summer time have better scores when they take their tests the following year," said Klippert. "We are trying to encourage children to read and encourage families to read together and have fun."

This year the Area I summer reading program goes high-tech to record the progress of participants. Registration is online at "They go to the website, create an account, and track their reading throughout the summer," Klippert said. "They put what book they are reading, how many minutes they did, they can even do reviews. And it will tell them when they have read enough and they can get a prize."

One youngster eager for prizes is 2 ½ year old Isabella Mena, whose mother reads to her every day.

"Her favorite book that she likes me to read is 'Are You My Mother' by Dr. Seuss, because she likes that it has all the different animals," said Jessica Mena. "I like reading to her because it increases her vocabulary, which is very important to me."

Last year the program was for children but has been expanded this year with a program for teens and one for adults.

"So we are hoping to get more participation," Klippert said.

"It doesn't have to be a library book, it can be anything they want," she said. "Parents reading to their kids, that counts for both the parent and the child.

"We have thousands of books at the library," she said. "We have a teen section and young adult section that we just started in 2010."

The library's childrens' collection has doubled since 2010, she said.