Every summer, hundreds of area children, teens and adults dedicate a portion of their time to bettering their minds through the Keene Memorial Library Summer Reading Program.

Kicking off May 25, the Summer Reading Program wasted no time engaging, challenging and enhancing all who participated. One of the major goals of the program is to ensure that students of all ages don’t lose reading comprehension through summer learning loss, Librarian No. 2 Laura England-Biggs said.

England-Biggs has coordinated the Summer Reading Program for years now, and her passion for it hasn’t wavered an ounce. One of her goals, she said, is always just to find a way to get students through Keene Memorial Library’s doors; the rest usually takes care of itself when they become immersed in the tales that lay within a book’s binding.

During a Thursday interview with the Tribune, England-Biggs spent some time enthusiastically speaking about this year’s summer reading results.

“We had a really good summer of reading this year,” she said. “We ended up with 315 people signing up to read, and of those people, 203 actually logged minutes, which is a 109-percent increase from last year from 186 (logging minutes).”

Of the total amount of people signing up to participate in the Summer Reading Program – 226 children, 25 teens and 64 adults —, England-Biggs said that 64 percent logged reading minutes. This year’s reading goal in terms of minutes logged was originally 283,500 minutes, however, England-Biggs said that number was adjusted to 191,835 minutes.

The goal minute mark was determined, she said, based off of 945 minutes reading over the course of nine weeks, multiplied by 300 readers.

As of Tuesday when England-Biggs calculated minutes, the total stood at 153,171 minutes, meaning 80 percent of the goal was accomplished. While the goal wasn’t quite met, England-Biggs doesn’t think much of it considering she always sets lofty reading goals.

“You aim high because at least that way you land among the stars,” she said.

Another positive from this year’s Summer Reading Program was that a record number of readers earned digital badges through Beanstack, the reading database. These digital badges recognize reading accomplishments and progress being made.

To earn a single badge, readers had to put in 110 minutes of work. This year, readers earned a grand total of 1,243 badges.

“We saw a 150-percent increase in the number of badges earned this year,” she said. “That’s a huge plus that we saw.”

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In addition to reading, participants in the 2017 program once again had the opportunity to attend Special Program Mondays, where a variety of fun, entertaining shows and activities were held. Special Program Mondays are a great way to pique prospect readers’ interest.

“It always engages people, it brings them through the door, and once we get them through the door we can really show them everything we do,” she said.

While England-Biggs is once again highly satisfied with the results of the Summer Reading Program, she knows that there is always room for improvement. One idea being tossed around, she said, would be to potentially host some sort of Winter Reading Program to provide another outlet for community members to get involved.

Simply watching children find passion on a book’s pages is what it’s really all about for England-Biggs.

“It’s really fun to watch kids explore and find new books,” she said. “And just come up with an armful of books, and then knowing that they are going to come back tomorrow to return them because they will read through them that quickly. And then they just want more and more.”

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