Summer reading a success

The theme for the 2019 Custer County Library Summer Reading Program was “A Universe of Stories.” 
The program concluded  July 24 with a party at  Custer Elementary School. Children who participated in the program enjoyed snacks, games and a space-themed presentation by the Journey Museum of Rapid City. Entertainment for the party was provided through a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The party was attended by 102.
The Summer Reading Program encourages and rewards children for time spent in independent or partnered reading during the summer. Studies have shown that reading during the summer allows students to maintain and strengthen reading skills acquired during the school year and that reading to children from an early age allows them to improve their vocabulary and language skills, giving them a better chance to become good readers.  
Custer County had 194 readers participate this summer with 172 children reading 2,296 hours and 22 teens reading 236 books.  Children in the program kept track of the hours they spent reading and cashed their time in for various prizes at the library’s summer reading store. Teen readers submitted tickets for each book they read and placed tickets into various prize drawings at the conclusion of their program. Prizes for the program were donated by various local businesses and purchased with monetary donations from the Virginia Ferguson Memorial, the Rotary Club, the Sarah N. Dipity donation and Carson Drug.
The library offered 18 special programs with 549 participants during the summer.  That’s a 50 percent increase in the number of programs and 79 percent increase in program participation from 2018, library officials say. Some of the programs included nature programs by Custer State Park Naturalist Emily Hiatt, a rocket science program by retired Lockheed Martin engineer Kurt Austad, a space-themed escape room and various space-related craft programs. Funding for these programs was provided by the Virginia Ferguson Memorial donation. Volunteers helped run the summer reading Store and provide programs. Volunteers included Jessica Ostrander, Hiatt, Kurt and Luane Austad, Roger and Mindy Weber, Warren and Bambi Graham and Jeannie Fischer. 
Businesses in Custer and in the Black Hills supported the summer reading program. The family of former librarian Virginia Ferguson provided a majority of the funding for the Custer program through a memorial. Battle Creek Masonic Lodge No. 92 and Scheels,  provided bikes and Scheels gift cards for the Hermosa prize drawings.

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