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Friends of the Surprise Libraries supports the summer reading program

The summer reading program is put on every summer by the Maricopa County Library District of Arizona. It runs in 17 branches of library district and 32 affiliate libraries. The program encourages students to continue their reading skills over the summer and provides motivation for families, pre-readers, kids, teens and adults to read for pleasure.

This year's program began May 24 and went through July 21. The program supports four age groups: pre-readers (age 5 and younger), children (ages 5-11), teens (ages 12-18) and adults (ages 18 and older). This is the first year that adult readers have been added to the program.

Library staff began by visiting K-8 grade schools in the Dysart Unified School district during April and May, bringing awareness of the program to about 4,242 students. Teens are invited to participate both in the reading program and to volunteer to assist and encourage others in the program at the library. Fifty-five new teen volunteers were added to the libraries regular volunteers to assist with the summer reading program. Participation is free, with individuals signing up to read books that are age appropriate. When the individual completes each stage or section of the program prizes are awarded. The participant selects a book from a pre-selected list as the final prize for completing the program. This year, 4,024 children, teens and adults signed up for the program; 609 wrote reviews about the books they read this summer.

The Friends of the Surprise Libraries, Inc is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization that supports the public libraries in Surprise in addition to public and charter school libraries. The friends group accepts donated books, magazines, and other media and then sells them at their used book store Friends' Place, inside the lobby of the Northwest Regional Library.

Each year, The Friends of the Surprise Libraries contributes money to support specific programming that would not otherwise be available under the MCLDAZ budget. So far, this year friends has contributed $5,994.12 to library programs and will contribute up to $10,000 more for the book prizes awarded to those who complete the Summer Reading Program.

Earlier this year, The Friends of Surprise Libraries contributed $14,000 to local Dysart libraries through the annual school library grant program. Over the past six years, the friends have contributed $84,000 to local public and charter school libraries and $ 113,681.95 to the Northwest and Hollyhock libraries for a total of $197.681.95.

To volunteer time, donate books or magazines, or make a tax deductible donation, visit www.friendsofthesurpriselibraries.org or follow them on Facebook.

Alyson "Aly" Cline is president of the Friends of the Surprise Libraries Inc.

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