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My Town: Check out a Book Buddy at your local library

My Town: Check out a Book Buddy at your local library

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Firemen, ballerinas, mascots, sports figures, literary characters and more will be at local library branches on June 21 to get kids reading!

Kent District Library, Grand Rapids Public Library and the Heart of West Michigan United Way are joining forces to present Book Buddies, a program that encourages children to check out a “book buddy” and spend ten minutes reading their favorite book together.

The Book Buddies program is designed to help children meet the goal of reading 400 minutes over the summer, the amount of time it is estimated that kids should spend reading to prevent summer slide and maintain the reading gains they made over the school year.

Seven local library branches will present Book Buddies on June 21. The schedule is as follows:

My Town: How to bridge the summer learning loss gap

My Town: How to bridge the summer learning loss gap

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (National Heritage Academies)—Every child will lose a portion of the academic growth they experienced this school year during the summer break; It’s called summer learning loss. The problem is becoming so apparent the National Summer Learning Association has designated Friday, June 20, Summer Learning Day.

“It is so easy for students to slip into a summertime routine that doesn’t involve reading, writing, or using their math skills,” said Ridge Park Charter Academy Principal Emory Wyckoff. “We are challenging our students to set aside time each day to devote to a book or write about a summer experience they have enjoyed. Summer should be fun and educational.”

Wyckoff has some tips to help parents curb the summer slide:

My Town Lowell: Jukejoint Handmedowns take the stage June 19 for Sizzlin' Summer Concert

My Town Lowell: Jukejoint Handmedowns take the stage June 19 for Sizzlin' Summer Concert

LOWELL, Mich.—Expect an eclectic mix of music Thursday, June 19 as the second act of the Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concert series takes the stage.

Jukejoint Handmedowns started with Nathan James and Tim Foley in 2010 and has since doubled in size, with Paul Harris on steel guitar and Craig Van Otteren on mandolin.  The American roots group’s collection of songs mixes old country and western with 70s AM pop radio hits, jazz, rock and roll and contemporary music.

The performance starts at 7 p.m. at Riverwalk Plaza in downtown Lowell.  Admission and parking is free.  Visitors are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or take a seat on the public bleachers.

The summer concert series is brought to the community by LowellArts and the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

My Town: Book Buddy volunteers needed for June 21

My Town: Book Buddy volunteers needed for June 21

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— Help a kid discover their passon for reading by becoming a “Book Buddy” this weekend.

The United Way, Kent District Library and Grand Rapids Public Library are looking for volunteers to read to children this Saturday, June 21. Volunteers are especially needed in Lowell and Sand Lake.  Volunteer roles include:

Book Buddy- Dress up as a character and listen to kids read. Wear costumes of your profession (police officer, doctor, etc.) or simply put on your best listening ears and be a buddy. Give your attention to a child as they read for 10 minutes.

My Town: Fish for free June 7 and 8

My Town: Fish for free June 7 and 8

MUSKEGON, Mich.— Grab a rod and head out onto the big lake this weekend for Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend.

On June 7 and 8, the state will be waiving fishing license fees.  Free Fishing Weekend applies to residents and out-of-state visitors on inland and Great Lakes waters for all species of fish.  All fishing regulations still apply.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, our state offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world, with more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams. To find inland lakes in your area, click here.

My Town: Kent County campaign spreads the word about free preschool

My Town: Kent County campaign spreads the word about free preschool
------------------------NEWS RELEASE---------------GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (First Steps Kent) – A collaborative team of parents, educators and advocates in Kent County launches a coordinated spring-summer marketing campaign for state-funded free preschool this week. Designed with bright colors, bold graphics, and adorable children, the materials focus on the benefit of preschool for little ones throughout the county. Campaign posters, flyers and yard signs will be shared by schools, preschools, doctors’ offices, salons, grocery stores and more—essentially, any organization serving parents of preschoolers. “We don’t have buckets of money for a big advertising push, so we are taking it to the streets with our amazing network of parent volunteers, community advocates, and grassroots activists,” said Judy Freeman, director of Great Start Collaborative for Kent County.

My Town Lowell: Observatory welcomes star-gazing visitors May 31

My Town Lowell: Observatory welcomes star-gazing visitors May 31

LOWELL, Mich.-- The public is invited for a night under the stars at the James C. Veen Observatory in Lowell on Saturday, May 31.

From 9:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., visitors can tour the facility,  enjoy an audio-visual presentation and check out several large and fully equipped telescopes.  Members' telescopes will also be available to see Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, Mars, galaxies and clusters, weather permitting.

James C. Veen Observatory is located at 3308 Kissing Rock Avenue SE in Lowell Twp., Mi 49331. Parking is at the bottom of a 1/4 mile uphill walk to the observatory, which may be difficult for some guests. Please ask attendant about available assistance.

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children 17 years and younger. The event is free for children under 5 years and Grand Rapids Public Museum Members.  For more information, visit  www.graaa.org.