Library's Summer Learning Challenge goes beyond books

By Tara monastesse
Posted 7/5/18

By TARA MONASTESSE Reading can be magical. Especially at the Warwick Public Library, where the annual Summer Learning Challenge kicked off this past week. To encourage children to participate, a variety of special performances have been planned: story

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Library's Summer Learning Challenge goes beyond books


Reading can be magical.

Especially at the Warwick Public Library, where the annual Summer Learning Challenge kicked off this past week. To encourage children to participate, a variety of special performances have been planned: story times, obstacle courses, musical performances and, yes, magic shows.

The Warwick Public Library began hosting its annual Summer Learning Challenge June 23. This program, open to children, teenagers, and adults of all ages, aims to encourage and reward activities that promote learning and education. From now until August 25th, participants can claim rewards by completing some of the many activities listed in the program’s point tracker. Activities, which range from reading for 20 minutes to completing summer math, aim to get people of all ages to have fun while engaging in learning activities.

Attending events hosted by the library will also go towards earning prizes. This past Friday, a magic show performed by Russ DeSimone was one such special event. In an interactive show, DeSimone performed several tricks that involved Presto the bunny and Flutter, the “mind-reading fish.” Some children participated in the tricks themselves, showing amazement when the balls in their hands changed colors seemingly on a whim.

The final trick, making Presto the rabbit appear, was highly anticipated.

“Would you like to see a real-life rabbit appear?” DeSimone asked, to a resounding “Yes!” from the audience. Soon afterwards, Presto was produced from a magic box and was able to be petted by the children.

DeSimone also reminded the kids throughout the show that there were books on magic tricks that they could read right there in the library.

The Summer Learning Challenge began on Saturday, June 23rd with a celebration that included an inflatable obstacle course, crafts, and sign-ups for the challenge. The challenge is open to anyone who wishes to participate, with different prizes available for each age group. Every ten points earned unlocks a new reward, which can be claimed at the library. For children, some of the prizes include a free admission card to a local museum, a token for the Warwick Mall Carousel, or a pass for the McDermott Pool

Teen and adults can receive fine forgiveness as a reward, as well as a printing coupon and coupons for restaurants such as Paco’s Tacos and Le Favorite Bakery.

Regardless of age group, after obtaining 50 points participants will receive a free book of their choice as well as a raffle ticket they can enter to win a prize pack.

Several of the point-earning activities involve using online software to access books and language learning materials. Programs such as EZone, Hoopla, Tumblebooks, and Mango Languages are all hosted on the library’s website, as well as apps that can be downloaded onto a phone or tablet. Using these programs to learn in a technologically savvy way can net points for those competing in the challenge.

Other challenges include reading from a recommended list, reading to another person, or drawing pictures from a book.

Le Favorite Bakery, Paco’s Tacos, Papa’s Ice Cream, local Subway restaurants, the Warwick Mall, and the Friends of the Warwick Public Library sponsor the program and provide prizes to reward members who participate. In total, it takes about $3,000 to fund the program, including special performances, materials, and prizes.

So far this summer about 1,000 children have registered for the program. Roughly 120 teenagers and 200 adults are also members of the program as of last Thursday.

Ellen O’Brien, Coordinator of Children’s Services at the library, says that it’s incredible to see the program increasing in size each year even as the population of Warwick dwindles. She also hopes that adults participating in the program will serve as role models for their children and encourage them to have fun learning as well.

The program, which has been taking place for about 30 years, recently changed its name from “Summer Reading” to “Summer Learning” to include more educational activities than just reading. Summer math and music education performances are a part of the program, in addition to books.

Sign-ups can be done online on the library’s website,, or in the library itself. Volunteers are available to help children sign up in the children’s section, where they will be given a point tracker to keep track of their activities and prizes. A list of upcoming events and performances, along with times, dates, and descriptions, is also available upon request.

Teen volunteers that help with sign-ups are often former members of the program themselves.

“It’s fun to work with the kids, they’re always so excited,” said teen volunteer Sydney Randall on Thursday. “They can be a little shy, but they’re very enthusiastic about the program.”

Volunteers are required to attend a training workshop before they can sign up new members. They work in two-hour shifts, with their choice of when and how many shifts they want to do. Sign-ups to volunteer begin in May, with training sessions taking place in late May and early June.

The Warwick Public Library hosts the program. The branches of the library that include this program can be found at:

Central Library, 600 Sandy Lane

Apponaug Branch, 3267 Post Road

Conimicut Branch, 55 Beach Avenue

Norwood Branch, 328 Pawtuxet Avenue


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