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Mission: Family: Add some learning to summer fun with library, museum programs

Jun. 8, 2012 - 05:04PM   |   Last Updated: Jun. 8, 2012 - 05:04PM  |  
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About the author

Karen Jowers is the wife of a military retiree.

Looking for some healthy, constructive activities for the kids this summer? Start with your base library, which will have some tasteful — and tasty — offerings this year.

The military's 250 base libraries will focus on the theme "Reading is so delicious," tying the fun of reading to the benefits of healthy eating.

Most programs will run eight weeks, with open enrollment during the summer. Check with your library to register; each one has a different schedule.

The libraries also will offer themed activities that vary by location, including edible art projects and discussions of books such as "James and the Giant Peach." A number of locations will offer kid-friendly prizes, ranging from T-shirts to chopsticks shaped like giraffes. Some libraries will have weekly drawings for prizes.

Check with your base library for specifics on its program.

Last summer's reading activities were so successful, 62,400 military children and their families logged a combined 11.8 million minutes — or about 23 years — of reading, said Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the Navy General Library Program.

The summer reading program is sponsored by the Defense Department, and its content is developed by iREAD. They've developed resource guides for the program to help librarians motivate children to read.

There's also an ulterior motive: Library reading programs are among the best ways to help children maintain and expand academic gains made over the previous school year. Studies indicate students who read recreationally outperform those who don't, and children tend to read more when they can choose books about their own interests.

Next stop: Free museums

Active-duty service members and their families can visit more than 1,600 museums across the country for free through Labor Day, Sept. 3. For example, adults would usually pay $25 for admission to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which is one of the participating museums. The Blue Star Museums program, now in its third year, is a joint effort of the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, DoD and the museums.

The active-duty member plus up to five family members are allowed in for free. Spouses of deployed service members also are eligible.

Among the newcomers to this year's list are the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar Ironworks in Richmond, Va. (usually $8 for adults, $4 for children); the Children's Creativity Museum, an interactive art and technology museum in San Francisco (usually $10); the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, N.M. (usually $6 for adults, $4 for children); and the World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colo. (usually $5 for adults, $3 for children).

For a complete list of the participating museums, http://www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums">click here.

Before heading out, check your museum's hours of operation.

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