News Column

Dougherty, Lee libraries kick off summer reading programs

June 8, 2014

By Terry Lewis, The Albany Herald, Ga.

June 08--ALBANY -- While saving for college can be challenging, this summer it can be as easy as reading a book.

Children across the state of Georgia who participate in Georgia public libraries' Summer Reading Program will not only get a jump start on their academic future, they also have the opportunity to win money for college through the Path2College 529 Plan'sŪ fifth annual summer reading program sweepstakes.

Late last week at the Oakland Library in Leesburg, and the Northwest Albany Library, Georgia's Path2College 529 Plan and Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) officially kicked-off "Fizz-Boom, $ave for College." This statewide initiative is designed to encourage kids to read throughout the summer and remind their parents and grandparents about the importance of saving for college.

"Summer reading programs at our library and others address immediate educational needs of children--making sure that they keep actively learning during the summer to avoid summer learning loss, or 'summer slide.'" said Erin Honeycutt, Children and Youth Services Librarian at the Lee County Library. "The sweepstakes is a great way to address long-term educational needs of children by raising awareness in parents and caregivers that it's never too early to begin planning for the future, and the chance to win money to get started is an extra bonus."

Dougherty County Children's librarian Melinda Vest was also excited about the summer reading partnership.

"The Fizz-Boom Read program provides free opportunities to foster curiosity, encourage increased reading, learn new information or skills and experience multiple forms of expression," Vest said. "Our goal is to not only encourage reading, but lifelong learning."

Mitch Seabaugh, executive director of the Path2College 529 Plan, said that this year's program will offer even more chances to win scholarship money.

Four regional winners will each win $1,529 towards a Path2College 529 Plan, and one grand prize winner will receive $5,529 towards a Path2College 529 Plan. Additionally, the library of the individual grand prize winner will receive $1,529, and the four libraries of the regional winners will each receive $529.

"This is a way for children to experience the joy of reading while gaining many academic benefits. They can also possibly win money towards their college savings. There's really no down side to participating--it's a win-win," said Seabaugh. "Our goal is to familiarize Georgians with the only state-sponsored 529 college savings plan, and help families build a strong financial and academic foundation for the future."

Last year, more than 200,000 children and teens participated in the Summer Reading Program.

"The Summer Reading Program encourages a love for reading and learning year-round. This sweepstakes engages parents and children in a practical conversation about the importance continuing that education, as well as saving for the expenses related to going college," said Lamar Veatch, Georgia State Librarian. "If we can help just a small percentage of the children we serve start a plan for their future, we will have been successful."


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Source: Albany Herald (GA)

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