YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - More than 300 Yongsan kids and parents gathered at the Yongsan Library June 23 to celebrate the 2009 Summer Reading Program kickoff party.

The Summer Reading Program is designed to encourage kids to read books and provide an environment during the summer vacation where children may continue to learn. More than 200 children originally signed up for the program; yet still more showed up at the party.

This year's theme is "Be creative." At 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday from June 23 to July 28, the Yongsan Library will feature crafts, stories, games, and food for children. Topics include "Welcome to the Space Age,""Pioneer Play,""Korea Crafts," and "Whatever the Weather."

Through the weekly activities, children will develop a habit of reading good books, accumulate knowledge and become creative in arts and school, said Esther Kim, Yongsan Library Director.

Participating kids will be divided into three age groups: children, preschool and young adults. Each will have its own book list.

"I believe reading is the most important skill a child can ever get," Kim said. "We hope the Summer Reading Program will also strengthen the morale of Soldiers and their Families."

Following a cake-cutting ceremony, United States Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp and Joanne Sharp read two stories for the children, "If I Built a Car" by Chris van Dusen and "Carla's Sandwichs" by Debbie Herman. Other activities at the party included decorating cupcakes and painting T-shirts and book bags.

"We also hope to invite the newcomers and acquaint them with library services through the Summer Reading Program," Kim said. "We have a lot of materials that they can explore. We have books and tapes on an online database, a reference library, language tapes, magazines, DVDs, and more."

The Yongsan Library also offers a storytelling hour for preschoolers Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

For information on the 2009 Summer Reading Program or any Yongsan Library service, call 723-7380.

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