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Record-breaking winter reading challenge is one for the books

Record-breaking winter reading challenge is one for the books Record-breaking winter reading challenge is one for the books
By Kristen Cervenak, Editor, [email protected]

The Harrison County Public Library announced a successful start to the year with 35,253 books read in the month of January for its Read to Feed Harrison County Winter Challenge, more than triple its original goal of 9,500.

The community challenge helps to supply food for more than 600 families in need through Harrison County Community Services, Inc., in which 30,000 pounds of food a month is required.

“Tyson (Foods) was our first sponsor,” HCPL administrative assistant Diana Lasky said. “They’ve sponsored us every year, and they provide 100 cases of chicken to Harrison County Community Services. They’re about 40 pounds each.”

Additionally, HCCS will receive $1,000 from Duke Energy, $200 from Harrison REMC and a $75 gift card from Walmart.

The Read to Feed Harrison County Winter Challenge originated in 2021, during heights of COVID-19, as a way to bring the community together through difficult times.

Although the summer reading challenge rules require participants to check out literature from the library, the winter challenge allows additional reading materials.

“They can be reading books from school or ones they have at home, which helps increase usage because they’re not required to come to the library,” Lasky said. “That’s an exception to the rule because it is a community reading challenge.”

Eden Ransdell, head of youth services for HCPL, said more than 1,400 students, with ages ranging from preschool to sixth grade, participated in the challenge. Approximately 1,900 readers in total took part.

“We had 100% participation from Corydon Elementary School, Heth-Washington Elementary School and New Middletown Elementary School,” she said. “The teachers generally sent us their results every week.”

Lasky added, “You have two holidays in there, and sometimes you have winter issues at school. January can be time sensitive for schools, so we’re just thrilled with the participation.”

The teachers emailed Ransdell with how many books were read each week and how many children were participating. Heth-Washington Elementary School won by every metric, including the most books read overall and per student.

“They read an average of 60 books per student. They were working really hard. They were in it to win it,” she said. “It’s really great that the kids are so encouraged and that we can find a way to encourage them to read more.”

“We have a lot of adult readers in the community that helped us, too,” Lasky said. “We want to thank all of our readers that helped contribute to this.”

The library also has additional challenges, such as an ongoing reading program “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” which encourages parents to read 1,000 books to their children before kindergarten. The child receives a memory book and is featured on the library wall.

“That helps put children on the right track for school,” she said. “In their young age, it helps them with their vocabulary and readiness for school. They have a greater graduation success rate if they’re read to early in their life.”

The Harrison County Community Foundation also sponsors Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that provides children from birth to age 5 with a free book a month by mail, as long as they are a resident of Harrison County and a registration form has been filled out by a parent or guardian.