Gretna Public Library’s space-themed summer reading program saw overwhelming success in 2019.

Through “A Universe of Stories,” the library handed out 679 booklets to area youth, up more than 100 from last year. More children also completed their booklet, earning the grand prize of two books to keep, than in years past.

“Just a small amount of reading each day is what keeps kids from having to relearn their progress from last year,” said Jennifer Lockwood, children’s librarian. “I think some families get busy part way through the summer and then give up after missing a few days, but we don’t expect anyone to be perfect.

“You can always start anew the next day, and every little bit helps. Reading lays the groundwork for success in all academics, and improves with practice, just like any other skill. Twelve weeks with no practice can make you rusty.”

Eighty-six children’s programs, storytimes and outreaches were offered in June and July, with a total of 2,129 children attending.

The annual wrap-up event — a visit from Wildlife Encounters — proved most popular.

Summer reading for teens also returned this year. Seventy teens signed up for the program which offered 23 events. Popular events included the crafting of a baby Groot planter and making galaxy T-shirts.

“Over the summer, a lot of learning can backtrack and kids come back with a learning deficit,” said Rebecca McCorkindale, assistant library director. “If we can encourage reading and keeping the mind really active during the summer, they come back with a better retention of what they’ve been learning.”

An adult summer reading program was a new addition to this year’s summer library programming.

A BINGO card was offered to the 69 participants, who earned prizes upon completing BINGO, blackout and more.

“So far, we’ve had positive feedback with some participants stating they would like to see a magazine/periodical square, maybe more movie squares, a cookbook square or something along those lines to make it a little easier to reach blackout due to work and family,” said Ashley Suey, GPL’s adult services librarian. We’ve also gotten feedback that the BINGO was great the way it was as it provided a good challenge as it gets them to read something new. I appreciate hearing any feedback as this is a new program and I’d like to make it enjoyable for everyone.”

Numerous adult events that tied in the space theme of the library’s summer reading proved popular: Mirror Glaze Galaxy Doughnuts, Galaxy Bark, Galaxy T-Shirts and Alcohol Ink Plates. The Adult Summer Book Club was also popular with more spots available due to the addition of a second book club.

With a successful first year, library staff plan to make the adult summer reading program an annual library tradition.

“Reading over the summer is a great way to relax and unwind during the year, especially if you’re going on a trip,” Suey said. “You never know what you might learn or find — you may find an interesting book about a person or place you don’t know much about, or pick up a new hobby or skill that you’ve always wanted to learn, or maybe you’ll leap out of your comfort zone and try a new genre or author that you’ve never read before!”

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