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 San José Public Library will kick off the City’s Summer Reading Challenge at a special community event, 1-4 p.m., Sun., June 1 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 150 E. San Fernando St.

The kick-off will feature a San Jose Earthquakes Meet and Greet autograph and photo session with team members and their mascot “Q” along with the Library’s mascot “Conroy the Cougar,” 1-2:30 p.m.   Other highlights include the group Mad Science performing their “Fire and Ice” show, 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., and throughout the afternoon experiments and activities presented by the Santa Clara Valley section of the American Chemical Society, the Junior League of San José, Youth Science Institute and Mr. Science, and 3-D printing and the unveiling of a robot created specifically for the Library by TechShop.

The Summer Reading Challenge, taking place June 1 through July 31, is the largest seasonal special program produced by the Library.  It is built around the four themes of reading, learning, exploring and energizing with an emphasis on programing in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, or STEAM.  This will be supported by an extensive series of demonstrations, programs and events, including special Storytime readings featuring San Jose Earthquakes team members throughout the Library system.

The program also emphasizes the importance of exploration and physical activity, and encourages Challenge participants to take advantage of free or discounted passes to local museums and attractions, available through their library card.  To complement this, the Library is also offering a series of family play groups, kids’ music and movement celebrations, yoga and tai chi instruction, and Mexican folklorico, Aztec and line dance classes at selected library branches.

Challenge participants can earn prizes by keeping track of their reading. Game grids are available at all 23 library locations and via a downloadable app, co-created by eBay and the Library, available for iOS and Android devices.

According to Jill Bourne, director, San José Public Library, reading over the summer is critical to summer learning loss prevention, or “summer slide,” among students—mainly children.

“One to three months of academic growth can be lost over the summer.  Students who do not engage in educational activities during this time typically score lower on tests at the end of summer than they did at the beginning. However, by taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge and reading only 20 minutes per day, students can retain their skills and return to school ready to learn,” Bourne said.

Studies show that students who read 20 minutes per day, 3,600 minutes per school year, 1.8 million words each year are ranked in the 90th percentile for student achievement and scores on standardized tests.

“I’m extremely excited about the participation of eBay, the Earthquakes and TechShop, along with our many other partners.  Together, it demonstrates the importance San José puts on reading and learning and the future well-being of our community.” For more information, please visit sjpl.org/summer-reading-challenge-2014.

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