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Barton Library celebrates close of reading program

by Matt Hutcheson | July 17, 2021 at 12:10 p.m.
Librarian Karla Nelson leads the reading program and took time to pose for a picture with one of her many readers during the summer reading program party at Barton Library on Friday

Summer is in full swing and El Dorado’s Barton Library has taken full advantage, inviting back children from across the county to participate in their annual summer reading program.

On Friday, the library’s staff and reading program participants celebrated the end of the program with a party at the library.

Union County Public Library System director Michael O’ Connell served as the chef at the party and said the event saw a “solid turnout” of reading program participants and parents.

Reading program participants were able to enjoy hot dogs, watermelon and other snacks on Friday before finding a few more books to read before the program’s end.

Librarian Karla Nelson runs the reading program and said 225 participants took part this year.

The program rewards readers based on how many books they read. For every 10 books a child reads, they receive either a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s gift card.

“[We] want to promote literacy with this. The program helps with fluency, comprehension and other skills,” Nelson said.

Nelson said over 2000 books were read during the 6-week duration of the program this year.

Parent Jennifer Legg had several kids participate in the program and saw their interest in reading skyrocket as a result. They even grouped together, Legg said, and picked out an expensive item to save up for by combining their gift cards.

“This makes a big difference…and helps keep up their skills during the summer,” Legg said.

O’Connell said Project South helped to provide supplies for Friday’s party and the South Arkansas Historical Preservation Society and the Union County Geneological Society helped provide the awards for the program.

On Tuesday, the overall winners of the reading program will be announced by the UCPLS.

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