Avid reader sets summer goal: 600 books

Gideon Asumeng, 10, often reads after school at the Van Nest Library branch in Pelham Parkway. He’s aiming to read 600 books this summer for the NYPL’s Summer Reading Challenge.
Photo by Jaime Williams

One local library-goer has ambitious goals for the summer.

Gideon Asumeng, 10, plans to read over 600 books as part of the New York Public Library’s Summer Reading Challenge.

The soon-to-be 6th grader at P.S. 89 in Allerton, is pretty confident he can reach his goal. Last summer he read 487 books.

Love of reading

Asumeng said his love of reading started when his mother read to him when he was three. She realized he was enjoying the books and started to bring more and more home.

“My love of reading just grew and grew,” he said.

Nowadays, Asumeng often spends time after school at the Van Nest Library Branch in Pelham Parkway. He said he loves being surrounded by books, and he also likes seeing the younger kids at the library reading.

In addition to tearing through book after book – he said he often reads more than one book at a time, – he enjoys reading out loud to his 3-year-old cousin.

“He reminds me of myself,” said Asumeng. “I’m playing a role like my mom did, and it make me feel special.”

Asumeng said he keeps track of the books he reads in a red journal, and for the summer reading challenge he logs the books online. Last year he earned a T-shirt with lots of badges, each for reading different types of books.

This year, he’s already on his way to his goal. He’s read about 50 books in the last few weeks.

Summer challenge

Asumeng isn’t alone in reading hundreds of books over the summer.

Last year, the top summer reader for the NYPL challenge was Michael Pineda from the Van Cortland branch, who read 1,021 books.

Adenike Olanrewaju, a spokeswoman for the NYPL, said that this year the top readers from Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx get to go to a Yankee game. She said that the individual branches also have smaller prizes for their top readers throughout the summer.

Olanrewaju said the goal of the challenge (which kids can sign up for online or at their local branch), is to encourage kids to keep reading and learning throughout the summer, so they don’t lose their skills during the warmer months. Each year tens of thousands of kids participate, she said.

“It’s our response to summer slide,” she said about the program. “We try to spread the message far and wide that reading is great, reading is fun.”

In addition to the Summer Reading Challenge, the branches offer lots of programing for kids in the summer time, she added. This year’s summer theme is science, with programs ranging from coding classes for teens by Codecademy to insect education classes for younger kids.

“It’s to help keep them engaged until school starts up again,” said Olanrewaju.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.

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