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Onondaga County Public Libraries encourage summer reading with new program

McMahon reading
County Executive Ryan McMahon reads to a group of children at Soule Branch Library.

Onondaga County Public Libraries is trying to keep children reading during the summer months. Christian Zabriskie, the executive director of the county library system, and others gathered on Thursday at Soule Branch Library on Syracuse’s east side to launch the summer reading program called Oceans of Possibilities.

Christian Zabriskie
Christian Zabriskie, accompanied by Syracuse County Executive Ryan McMahon, speaks to a group of children at Soule Branch Library.

“This is us calling to the kids all over the county, all over the city to read, to be engaged, to come to the library. The library is fun. We’ve got stuff going on for kids all summer,” Zabriskie said.

He said the library is planning a series of activities at many branches through July and August.

“We’re going to be having people come from the zoo. We’re going to be having people from the MOST. We’re going to have magicians. We’re going to have crafts. We’re going to have messy play spaces. We’re going to have outdoor readings. It’s going to be a really full, fun summer,” Zabriskie said.

County Executive Ryan McMahon dove right in on launch day by reading a book called "Here Comes Ocean" to a group of preschoolers.

“Look at the sea star…see it here?” McMahon asked his listeners.

“Why does it say ‘sea star’?” one little girl asked.

“That’s what they’re called. They’re in the ocean, right?” McMahon said.

“In the ocean?” a little boy asked incredulously as McMahon laughed.

Ryan McMahon reading to a group of children.

Kelli Johnson is with the Reading League and says they’re pleased to support any effort to promote reading year-round.

“Particularly in summer, when learning loss, or summer slide as it’s often called, can take hold. What a lot of people don’t know is that while every person on the planet is wired for speech, no one’s brain is wired for reading,” Johnson said.

Onondaga County has 33 libraries, including 11 in the city. More information on Oceans of Possibilities programs and activities is at

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at