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May 9, 2013
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2013 – Libraries across the Defense Department will begin offering the fourth annual Summer Reading Program to students on their installations to promote reading fun, a Navy General Library official said.

Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the Navy General Library Program, highlighted DOD’s Summer Reading Program during an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.

“The Summer Reading Program operates on DOD installations worldwide, and it runs, generally, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, although we know school gets out at different times all around the world,” she said. “And it’s a way for students to have fun reading so they don’t go back to school behind the [power] curve.”

Carrato used sports as an example of practicing a skill to stay prepared.

“If you play a lot sports, you need to know how to run,” Carrato said. “If you want to learn in school, you’ve got to already have your reading skills. And if you don’t practice, you lose them.”

Reading is much less of a chore for a child who enjoys it, she added.

“If you don’t practice [reading] over the summer, you can go back a few weeks behind your classmates in terms of your reading skills,” Carrato said. “And that might not be so bad this year, but by the time they’re in sixth grade, they can be a whole year behind their classmates as far as their reading skills, because it does add up over time.”

This year’s Summer Reading program theme is a travel theme: “Have Book, Will Travel.”

“We’ll be reading about airplanes and cars, and [asking], ‘If you could go anywhere, where would you go?” Carrato said. “But it’s not necessary that you have to read about [that] theme -- just [have] fun. Those are the program ideas.”

The program will apply throughout the Defense Department, and it will be available at installation libraries and at some child and youth programs during the summer, Carrato said.

“It goes all ages,” she added. “Some bases will even do it for adults.”

In addition to the travel theme, the program includes incentives for students to participate, Carrato said, such as bookmarks and other prizes, as well as crafts parties. This year, she said, participants can earn a military challenge coin for reading.

In last year’s program, Carrato said, Defense Department children put in almost 30 years of reading time.

“We get the reports back from all of the installations around the world about how many minutes their kids read, and how many pages their kids read, and I add it all up,” Carrato said. “It’s millions of minutes.”

Last year’s program notched a 30-percent increase over the year before, “which was like a 300-percent increase over the year before that,” Carrato said.

“So it will probably be about a 50-percent increase if things keep building,” she added. “It’s pretty insane. This is the fourth year we’ve been doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”

Students can sign up at their local installation library or online.