Community Partners Help Grow Prendergast Program

The Children’s Room has many new toys and games, thanks to a grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

This summer, the James Prendergast Library will offer additional storytimes, free lunch for children and expanded children’s programming

Prendergast Library is a space for all and our Summer Reading Challenge is no exception.

This year’s summer programming focuses on encouraging children of all skill levels to read, explore and learn — all while having fun at the library.

It’s all too easy for children to lose hard-won literacy skills over the summer, so in order to appeal to children of all reading levels and to keep more reluctant readers involved, we’re offering a wider range of educational activities featured in our summer reading challenge, and reaching out to even more community organizations to promote literacy at local summer camps.

The library aims to motivate kids to read with the annual summer reading challenge, in which children and teens win free books and prizes for reading and filling out a reading log. To add to the excitement, each reading log acts as an entry for a chance to win one of three grand prizes — a Lego set and two bikes.

There will be crafts and activities in the Children’s Room each weekday. Submitted photos

But this year, children and teens can also earn grand prize entries and free books by participating in programming in the Children’s Room, like literacy-based games, arts and crafts, and STEM challenges in the Makerspace. There’s always plenty to do in the Children’s Room, with new board games and educational toys provided by a grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

Children who spend much of their summer in the library will have many opportunities to play and explore, and get involved in the summer reading challenge. And thanks to the help of volunteers, including Melanie Witkowski, the director of CASAC and dance instructor Kayla Walker, the library will even have regular dance-offs to encourage kids to burn off some extra energy in the afternoon.

During the summer, many children who typically spend their after-school hours at the library end up staying here for most of the day. With more and more children spending full days at the library, this summer, we’ll be partnering with the YMCA to provide free lunches to all children. This program will run from 12:30-1:30 p.m. each day, with outdoor games to follow.

Each year, we feature exciting events at the library as part of our summer reading challenge. Thanks to community partnerships, the library will feature a wide variety of summer programming. This includes nature programs on Tuesdays at 2 p.m., led by staff from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, and a visit from the St. Bonaventure Artmobile on Aug. 2 at 2 p.m.

The library will also host an educational event called “Pioneer’s Journey,” about the early history of Western New York. This program is aimed at young children and makes history accessible and interactive for the audience. This program takes places on July 17, at 2 p.m., and is presented by the Leon Historical Society.

Thanks to our partners in the community, library staff are again taking the summer reading challenge out of the library and into the community, expanding its reach to more children throughout the area. Like previous years, library staff will be visiting community organizations throughout Jamestown to encourage kids to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge.

Children will receive reading logs and free books, and will be able to compete for the prizes even if they can’t make it into the library. Participating organizations including the Summer Playground program, Jamestown Public Schools’ literacy camp, the Boys and Girls club, the Jamestown YMCA, the JRC Farmer’s Market and St. Luke’s Children of the Book camp.

Throughout the summer, the library will run expanded programming for children and teens. This will include story times at 10:30 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and our Makerspace from 3:30-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. To learn more about our Summer Reading Challenge or our summer programming, visit our website at or give us a call at 484-7135.