Nearly 1,000 people participated in the summer reading program at the Denison Public Library this year. The program wrapped up this weekend with a “touch-a-truck”event that gave children and families the chance to hop in the many different vehicles used by city agencies, including police cruisers, fire engines, ambulances and excavators.


The educational program’s weekly presentations ran throughout June and July and welcomed an estimated 700-1,000 participants.


“It was an absolute success,” Associate Library Directors Steve McGowen said. “Some of our programs saw record attendance and numbers we had never seen before.”


This year’s theme, “A Universe of Reading” was chosen to feature a wide swath of learning opportunities that included science labs, musical performances, a wildlife show, magic tricks and robotics classes.


While students are often thrilled with the arrival of summer vacation, McGowen said the months off can lead to varying degrees of learning loss and that’s something the library and its summer reading program are uniquely positioned to address.


“Our children’s programs do a great job of keeping kids, at all age levels, engaged, especially through science,” McGowen said. “And the Summer Reading Club aims to keep kids learning in the months that they’re not in school and keep that momentum going. And we offer some fun little prizes as a reward to those who stick with it.”


Bethany Laroche and her four-year-old son Liam attended several of the free Saturday events included with this year’s summer reading program, allowing them both to beat the heat, meet new friends and find new books to read.


“It’s definitely nice to come inside and enjoy the AC, for one,”Laroche said. “But we came in for the safari day and the magic show and, really, it was just a good way to have him socialize with other kids, outside of daycare. And he was super excited to get his first library card. I make him pick out a couple books every Saturday and I do too.”


Though McGowen said he was sad to see the summer reading program come to a close until next year, the library would love to see just as many visitors each weekend and show them what all it has to share.


“There’s a lot more to us than just books,” McGowen said. “We have VR headsets, people can check out sewing machines, we have a music room where people can come in and play all different kinds of instruments. We offer so much more than people know. Come check us out. We definitely encourage it.”


What kinds of programs would you like to participate in at an area library? Let reporter Drew Smith know at ASmith@HeraldDemocrat.com.