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Party celebrates readers’ book adventures

Owen Coon, 7, of Cortland, left, enjoys an ice cream cone while watching a dancing game performed by Cortland Free Library’s Youth Services Director Tammy Sickmon, Michaiah Hitchcock and Game Truck Central NY owner Luis Mendez. The party was part of the library’s Summer Reading Program Finale party held Saturday at Courthouse Park.

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Owen Coon, 7, of Cortland, left, enjoys an ice cream cone while watching a dancing game performed by Cortland Free Library’s Youth Services Director Tammy Sickmon, Michaiah Hitchcock and Game Truck Central NY owner Luis Mendez. The party was part of the library’s Summer Reading Program Finale party held Saturday at Courthouse Park.

Cylis Dimare doesn’t really have a favorite book, yet. He’s 1 1/2, so he explores the world with two (very quick) feet and a mother running after him.

But once his mother, Sarah Dimare of Cortland, catches him, she does read to him. “Chugga Chugga Choo Choo” is his favorite.

“We read for 20 minutes before snack and bedtime,” Dimare said.

Other readers at Cortland Free Library’s end-of-the-summer party for its reading program Saturday had slightly more sophisticated tastes, not that itreally matters. The journey is the important part — ajourney to knowledge, enlightenment or maybe just agood escape from the workaday world.

“You can go places you can’t go otherwise,” said 14-year-old Michaiah Hitchcock ofCortland as she wandered between the game truck and the bean bag toss. Her favorite? “The Hobbit.” “I like hobbits,” she said, but one must notethe story is about the yearlong trek of an undersized, overfed, furry-footed couch potato tofind himself and a one-fourteenth share of a dragon’streasure.

Her brother’s favorite? “Ancient Rome,” said 8-year-old Nolan Hitchcock, via an interactive history book at the library.

The point — of the party, and the reading program — is to get kids to read. Studies show that kids who read over the summer both maintain better reading skills in the fall and do better once the year starts. “Just have tons of them books all over the place,” said Youth Services Librarian Tammy Sickmon as she hauled raffle supplies to a tent. “Eventually, the kids will pick them up.”

Cortland Free Library offers more than 21,000 children’stitles and 75,000 across the building, so it’s not like there’s no choice. Sickmon’s favorite: “A Mother for Choco,” a children’s book about a birdlike creature on a quest to find a mother.

Jessica Gates of Virgil wasn’t sure she had a favorite of her own, but 2-year-old Jenna, otherwise busy with the bean bags, loves “Read to Tiger.”

Inside the game truck, owner Luis Mendez likes “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” he said as he watched a trailer full of kids play video games. He’s taken the games to nearly 20 library events this summer, either early to kick start reading programs with a good game of Super Smash Bros., or, likeSaturday, to reward them for reading.

Outside the truck, 8-year-old Skyla Gates danced in frontof a Nintendo Wii game. When she’s not dancing, she’s reading her favorite: “The Princess in Black.” Because sometimes, reading isn’t always about the journey. Sometimes it’s about a princess kicking serious monster butt.

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