HCHS students participating in reading program


John Henson

Summer Reading 2017 will open Thursday at the Harlan Public Library. Cheyenne Coogle (left) and Casey Ledford talked with Harlan Public Library director Richard Haynes about plans for this year’s program.

John Henson, Bear Tracks advisor

Able to travel the world with Harry Potter or Edward Cullen while never leaving the Harlan Public Library, Cheyenne Coogle has no trouble explaining why she loves to read and plans to be part of Summer Reading 2017, which opens Thursday at the library.
“It’s relaxing and blocks the outside world, and I find myself in a great escape,” said Coogle, a junior at Harlan County High School.
Coogle especially enjoys fiction series, which is where she met Potter and Cullen in the Harry Potter and Twilight books, respectively.
She doesn’t, however, like to pick favorites.
“Don’t ever ask me my favorite series,” said Coogle with a chuckle. “I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series over 20 times. I’ve read the entire Twilight series 20 times. I’ve read a lot of books.”
So has Harlan County High School senior Casey Ledford, who also plans to be part of the annual summer reading program, which opens June 8 at the Bryan Whitfield Library in Harlan, along with the libraries in Evarts and Cumberland.
“It’s a great learning experience. You can learn a lot from what people write,” Ledford said.
Richard Haynes,who leads the county library system, expects another big turnout for this year’s Build a Better World program each Thursday of the summer. The program will feature a different theme each week.
“School is great, but they have to do a lot of reading they don’t want to do,” Haynes said. “In the summer, we don’t mandate what book they read. We help them find books they want to read.”
Harlan County High School librarian Anissa Alred also stresses the importance of reading, especially during the summer when students are away from school, sharing one of her favorite Dr. Seuss quotes.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go,” she said.
Haynes pointed out that the program has helped many teenagers develop a love for reading.
“Teens will come in and say they hate to read,” Haynes said. “I tell them they haven’t found what they want to read. If you’re playing video games, you’re reading. If you’re keeping up with sports statistics, you’re reading. If you’re reading a graphic novel or magazine, you’re reading, You just have to find what you like to read.”
Haynes said reading in the summer to help students overcome the summer reading loss that research has shown will cause students to regress in their reading ability in the time they are away from school between May and August.
“We have it annually to help students lose less of their reading skills during the summer,” he said. “They get rewarded for reading 10 books or more. They get a prize bag with prizes and coupons from around the state, including Kentucky Kingdom. It’s a state-promoted program from the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives. They give us a program manual with ideas we can use.”
Children and teenagers will both participate in the program, which features approximately 25 children and teenagers.
“We have a small group of young adults who come to participate,” said Haynes. “We have a teen section of the library with the young adult books.”
Haynes said the program will “kick off” on Thursday with different themes planned each week through late July.
“We’ve done it every year I’ve been here, which has been 17 years, and before I arrived,” he said. “We try to connect students with things they love to read and promote a love of reading throughout their lifetime.”