WIESBADEN, Germany - "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." -- Frederick Douglass

"There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book." -- Frank Serafini

"To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country." -- George Washington

"Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope." -- Kofi Anan

Summertime is a great opportunity to travel, explore new worlds and to expand one's horizons. It's also the perfect time to catch up on one's reading.

This year more than 300 individuals expanded their horizons during the Wiesbaden Library's "It's Showtime At Your Library" Summer Reading Program.

"We've done a lot of different things and we've learned a lot," said Reggie Stewart, lead library technician with the Wiesbaden Library.

Community members of all ages had the opportunity to take part in the various Summer Reading categories including Children's, Teen, Family and Adult Summer Reading Programs.

The more than 220 children who participated in the Children's program enjoyed six weeks of special activities with themes including puppets, game shows, music, super heroes, magic and science -- and the Grand Finale -- a free movie showing (with various giveaways) at the Taunus Theater.

"The Summer Reading Program is a traditional program of libraries nationwide," said JoAnn Ogreenc, Wiesbaden Library director.

"The whole focus during the summer months is to keep children reading during summer vacation so that when they get back to school they're ready," Ogreenc said. "It's to help prevent the summer slide in their reading abilities.

"We also want to encourage families to read together as a family," she said. "We added the Family program, which is for children from birth to 4 years old, and their parents.

"Our focus is on literacy," Ogreenc added. "We're working very hard to make sure there are programs available to promote reading together as families."

Besides reading and keeping track of time spent doing so (more than 100,000 combined minutes, according to library officials), children constructed musical instruments and participated in a rich variety of interactive fun and learning opportunities during the six-week program.

"With the overall theme, 'It's Showtime At Your Library,' we featured different types of shows throughout the program," said Ogreenc, adding that the program wouldn't be possible without the crucial support of corporate sponsors (Military AutoSource, Euler Group, AAFES and Andrews Federal Credit Union) and volunteers (including many from Wiesbaden's Child and Youth Services).

"We're very thankful for their support. We couldn't do this and include this many children with only two people," she said. Another benefit was being able to give away a host of prizes all during the six weeks in recognition of the youth's efforts to increase their reading.

"The children love to read, and this is a nice way to keep them busy over the summer," said Nancy Maina, whose children participated in this year's program.

"I really liked the reading and the prizes," said her son, Mark, adding that his favorite themed-Saturday was the Science program where he had a chance to construct items with Legos and Meccanos.

Summer may be quickly winding down, but the Wiesbaden Library continues to offer various activities aimed at promoting literacy.

On Sept. 19 the library invites all Harry Potter fans for a Back to Hogwarts event from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (come dressed as your favorite character).

The library also offers Preschool Story Time for children up to age 5 every Thursday from 10-11 a.m. starting Sept. 5.

A new Baby Story Time starts on Sept. 25 (for children up to age 3) and will be offered every fourth Wednesday of the month.

For more information stop by the Wiesbaden Library in Building 1029 on Clay Kaserne or call civ (0611) 143-548-9821.

(Editor's note: Please note that the Wiesbaden Library will have new hours of operation starting Oct. 1, 2019. As of that date new hours will be Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The library will be closed on Fridays, Saturdays, U.S. Federal and German Holidays.)