Summer reading

Audrey Gomez

School is out but the doors at the Oak Heights Elementary School library are still open. At least on Tuesday and Thursday mornings through the end of July.

The Sweet Home Public Library and Oak Heights are teaming up to encourage young readers, with help from some local retirees.

This is the first year of the Oak Heights “SL3” (Summer Learning, Summer Library and Summer Lunch) program.

The school and the library each provide a staff person, said Rose Peda, library director.

“It’s my firm belief that children who read for fun do better in school,” said Sandi Leonard, library assistant. “I would do anything to keep them encouraged. It’s a passion of mine to keep them reading for fun.”

Leonard and retired teacher Candy Snyder have teamed up on alternate days to lead the program.

Snyder was a Title I teacher at Oak Heights before retiring this year. She has also taught kindergarten during her 29-year teaching career

“This program is brand new and so we’re just kind of figuring it out,” Snyder said. “We’re not actually checking books out. (Kids) can bring a book and swap it for another book.”

The program also received donated books from teachers and retired teachers.

The program, which runs from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m., is followed by a free lunch on site. The program includes story time as well as crafts and some computer time.

Staff members present a program which could include art activities and then supervise the use of the online curriculum development expansion and resource “MobyMax.”

Patty Hankins brought her three children, Luci, 8, Owen 5, and Allison, 2.

“Owen is just learning how to read,” Hankins said. “He starts kindergarten next year.”

Though he is a new reader, Owen already has some favorite reading material.

“I like to read my name and “Gingerbread Guy,” Owen said. “He runs really fast all the time.”

After reading a book with Leonard, Owen spent some time using a reading program on one of the computers in Oak Heights’ library.

Program participants typically range in age from preschoolers to junior high school-age.

“That’s pretty challenging,” Snyder said. “Fortunately some of the older kids read to the younger kids.”

Parents of preschoolers are encouraged to stay as long as their children are there.

Ileta Hopper, who has worked as a foster grandparent in the first-grade classroom at the school for two years, is able to help with the summer reading program as well.

During the school year, she stays with one classroom, which helps build a connection with the students, who know her as Grandma Hopper.

“All my kids are grown up,” Hopper said. “If I can help kids here and teachers, I think that’s a total benefit.”