Take a trip through our solar system and explore “A Universe of Stories” this summer with the Shippensburg Public Library.

The library hosted a kick-off party for its Summer Learning Program last Tuesday, complete with a space theme and ice cream.

Sami McCulloch, director of youth services at the library, coordinates the program, which runs from June 4 through Aug. 2. Children read, track their minutes and earn summer tokens. At the end of the summer, they can redeem their tokens for prizes. Raffles are also held for participants that log more than 1,000 minutes.

The program offers prizes to participants to incentivize them to meet their reading goals. Prizes include tickets or passes to local skiing or tubing locations, pizza vouchers, restaurant gift cards, and coupons for Rita’s Italian Ice. They also have prize items, such as toys or trinkets like earbuds and sunglasses.

Many of these prizes are donated by local businesses that sponsor the program.

“It helps to bring the community together. It’s getting people to read. It’s incredibly important,” McCulloch said. “Learning is important for everything in life. By getting them connected with the library and the resources we have, no matter what age they are, it helps set them up for life.”

Participants in the Summer Learning Program use an online database to chart their reading minutes. They can also earn tokens by attending the library’s summer programming every Tuesday night.

These programs include Magical Nick, a children’s magician; Silly Joe Sings, an interactive musician; and Jerry Schneider, with his program on why pollinators are important to the world.

Catherine Wood brought her children, Savannah, 2, Tyler, 3, and Michael, 8, to the event last week. Though Savannah and Tyler are a little young to be reading yet, Catherine reads to them often. Michael said he enjoys reading on his own, especially the “Dog Man” series, a spin-off of “Captain Underpants” about a police dog whose head has been surgically attached to the body of a policeman to fight crime. Michael, who is in fifth grade, enjoys the humor in the books.

Arianna Walker, 8, first started reading when she picked up “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” but also likes the “Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” and more. She has been coming to events at the library for five years and is sometimes there every night in a week. Arianna likes to read every night before bed, in the car, and whenever else she can squeeze a page in.

Kimmy Silla, 8, readily volunteered her favorite books. She likes R.L. Stine’s books for the twists and turns in his plots and said she enjoyed “The Girl Who Cried Monster.” She also enjoys “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

“It’s cool stuff. You never know what will be in there,” she said. “It’s adventurous. You never know what you’ll read about.”

Tambrey Strickland brought Conner and Gabriel Downey to the event. She said the program keeps the kids connected with the real world.

“It reminds them that you don’t just need video games,” she added.

Conner, who has autism and has difficulty reading, likes to listen to audiobooks instead, which the library also provides.

“A lot of libraries like this try to keep the community together,” Strickland said.

Strickland also said she knew many children that attend the library’s events are homeschooled, so the library also contributes an important social aspect to their growth and development. Additionally, children come from all over, and are not just from the Shippensburg community.

The library will host “Blast Off to Reading with Magical Nick” at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

Other fun summer events include weekly camps, such as Bridges Camp (this week); Adventure Survival Camp Week 1, on June 18; Adventure Survival Camp, Week 2, on June 25; Wild Animals Camp Week 1, on July 9; Wild Animals Camp Week 2, on July 16; Farm Camp, Week 1, on July 23; and Farm Camp, Week 2, on July 30. Registration is due by 1 p.m. the Tuesday of each week of camp and deadlines only apply until the camps are filled.

For more information on the Summer Learning Program, and other programs for the community, visit the library on Facebook, or ask about programming at the circulation desk inside of the library, located at 73 W. King St. in Shippensburg. To register online, visit: https://www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org/drupal/SHP_summerlearning-universeofstories.

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