A local program is encouraging children to crack open a book and read – even during their summer break from school.
The Cambria County Area Agency on Aging’s Foster Grandparent Program has been holding its 13th annual Reading is Cool contest for the past three months with the goal of inspiring youngsters to continue to read outside of school.
“We want to make reading fun and enjoyable,” said Helen Melnik, director of the Foster Grandparent Program. “Kids can use their imagination and go anywhere in the world, and reading helps them do that.”
The program will wrap up on Monday.
An awards ceremony to acknowledge all of the readers will be held at 10:30 a.m.
Aug. 6 at East Side Elementary School, 220 Messenger St., Johnstown.
The contest is divided into three categories: First- and second-graders, third- and fourth-graders, and fifth- and sixth-graders.
“All participants will receive a treat bag, a Smiley cookie from Eat’n Park and a certificate,” Melnik said.
As an added incentive, those who read the most books in each category will receive a $50 prize.
Second- and third-place finishers will receive $10 and a small gift.
The reading contest continues to attract more pupils each summer.
The first year saw about 100 participants, and this year there are nearly 500 children registered.
“They read about 6,000 to 7,000 books each summer. That’s pretty impressive,” Melnik said.
The intent is that the contest will inspire not only the participants to become lifelong readers, but members of their families as well.
“Hopefully, they’ll get into the habit of reading because reading is the key to success,” Melnik said.
The program is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Cambria County commissioners.