Hundreds of Brooklyn kids found their inner superpowers by donning colorful masks, capes and costumes to help kick off the Brooklyn Public Library’s annual Summer Reading Program in a superhero-themed event held outside the Central Branch at Grand Army Plaza on Thursday, June 4.
According to the BPL, summer breaks cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, affecting low-income students the most. BPL launched the Summer Reading Program to prevent this “summer slide” and encourage students to visit the library while school is out.
“Summer Reading is a celebration of reading and learning throughout the summer,” said Andrea Vaughn Johnson, school age services coordinator at BPL. “A lot of kids don’t have access to books at home and they don’t have a lot of the activities, so the library is here for them.”
Last year, the program provided 138,000 participants with book lists, literacy-building activities, games and reading challenges. Students who wish to enroll can visit any BPL branch.
The day was filled with portraits, balloon sculptures, kid-friendly activities and even live music from band Unlocking The Truth – the youngest metal band signed to a major label — comprised of three Brooklyn ninth graders that have played with bands like Guns N’ Roses and Queens Of The Stone Age.
“Performing in front of the kids, it was a very different experience, but I’m glad I got to do it, because we always encourage them to strive for what they want to do and they can see that people a little bit older than them who are positive and follow their dreams, that this is where we’re at,” said Malcolm Brickhouse, the band’s lead singer. “It’s just fun to show the kids that they can do what they want to do and reading is fundamental. You need it in everyday life.”
Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, who attended, positively commented on the day representing “the soul of Brooklyn and its diversity” among the children.
“It’s great when we can find common activities that can bring that diversity together and reading is certainly one of them,” Cumbo said. “So to have younger children, older children, people of all races and nationalities here today, really speaks to the importance and the vibrancy that reading brings to our lives.”
Though the event highlighted summer reading, Johnson noted that the library is open year-round.
“The library is free for children of all ages,” said Johnson. “They have free access to millions of books and we strongly encourage kids to read. Studies have shown that kids who not only have access to books but who choose freely what they want to read enjoy reading more and their efficiency goes up. That’s our goal.”