Summer Reading Program Clearly a Success Story

I’ve always been a fan of the South Pasadena Public Library — particularly the summer reading program.
I’ve acted in past years as a kind of “greeter” to help parents and students register for the program, which has drawn more than 2,000 students in past years. That’s why I was worried that, with the library closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there might not be a reading program this year.
I should not have worried.
The program may be online instead of in-person this year, but the energy level is still high — and so is the creativity of children’s librarian Judy Neeb and her teenage volunteers.
The program has had 1,023 participants sign up for the program since it began in early June and they had read for a total of 1,187,475 minutes as of early this week.
“There have been a great many changes during these challenging times, but the heart of this program remains focused on the joy of reading,” said Neeb, who was named children’s librarian last January. “And while I wish we could be working together in person, I’m grateful that we still are able to flourish during this transitional period.”
The program, which began June 1, runs through Aug. 1.
The spirit of the program has always been kept up by teen volunteers — and this year Neeb is really impressed with the 40 teens who have given more than 200 hours of service altogether.

Photo courtesy Judy Neeb
“I’m grateful we still are able to flourish during this transitional period,” says children’s librarian Judy Neeb.

The teens have written book reviews for the blog at They have donated 105 letters for the Senior Center meal delivery service and created chalk art in their neighborhood promoting the summer reading program. The teens have also started to crochet animaguri — cute stuffed animals and dolls — for the seniors.
“I am constantly blown away with the creativity of our teen volunteers,” Neeb said. “They have taken the initiative to grow and create in an amazing fashion to not only support our library but to support the South Pasadena community.”
The teens have taken an active role in the “Make Arts Friday” program. Make Art Fridays are a way for the community to create arts and crafts each week with materials they have at home. Each week, the library posts a famous work of art on its Facebook and newly created Instagram page. The challenge is to create art or a craft that is inspired by this work of art.
Another highlight has been Monday story times — one of my favorite parts of any children’s department week. The three children’s service librarians have been creating and recording story times at their homes, and then the videos are uploaded for public viewing on the library Facebook page and on its website every Monday at 10:30 a.m.
Learn about the schedule for the programs on the library’s website and on Facebook.

The South Pasadena Community Services and recreation summer camp will return to an in-person program beginning Monday, July 6, after a very slow registration for its first session, which was online.
The in-person all-day program will run through Aug. 7 and was made possible only after Gov. Gavin Newsom gave approval for summer camps to open. Camp hours are 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
“We were waiting on opening until the governor and the county gave their approval. It’s been a quick turnaround and it’s been a whirlwind two weeks,” said Antonio Villalobos, community services supervisor.
Two groups of 12 will be organized primarily by age at the Parks and Recreation Building on Mission Street. Overflow groups, which will be mixed in age, may meet either at the clubhouse at Eddy Park or at the War Memorial Building.
Temperatures will be taken as youngsters arrive for camp and at midday, and all campers will be required to wear masks.
The cost for South Pasadena residents is $154.50 weekly, and each additional sibling will pay $144.20.
“Summer camp is something that always has a high demand because people don’t have day care and they want their children to have a varied summer program,” Villalobos said.
Villalobos noted that the city-run summer camp has always been a popular program, with up to 100 youngsters in the lower age group and up to 45 older campers.
The camp is for children ages 6-13, with younger campers usually grouped from ages 6-10, although siblings and people in the same household will be put in the same group, Villalobos said.
“To show how popular summer camp is, we were taking registrations in early March before the shutdown because of the pandemic,” Villalobos said.
For more information, call the Recreation and Youth Services Division at (626) 403-7380 or email

The summer camps sponsored by the South Pasadena Educational Foundation have also moved online this year. Those programs began in June and a new sequence runs from July 13-Aug. 7.
Topics include dance exploration; fun with fairy tales; a Lego challenge; Mandarin and Spanish; science exploration; soccer online; PE virtual; and writing for comedy.
SPEF camps will no longer be one-week camps and will occur twice a week during the summer camp season.
For more information and to register, visit

Further around town:
The COVID pandemic may be physically harmful, but it has been fiscally beneficial for SugarMynt Gallery and its owner, SaraRose Orlandini.
Orlandini has reported that in April, her customers — used to seeking the spooky in their art décor — found her website and provided her with her most profitable several weeks since the gallery opened in 2015. One customer even called and ordered $4,000 worth of artwork that he found at


Library, Foundation Keep Kids Busy

Here are programs and events in the South Pasadena Public Library online summer program. The library’s website is at
• Monday Story Times through July 27 at 10:30 a.m. Join children’s librarians online as they read stories and share songs and mini puppet plays. Story time videos will be made available on the library website, Facebook and YouTube for viewing starting at 10:30 a.m. each Monday throughout the summer. Each story time video will be available throughout the day that it is posted.
• Wonderful Wednesdays through July 29 at 3 p.m. Enjoy virtual Wonderful Wednesdays on the library website and Facebook. Note that performers are subject to change.
• Teen Thursday, July 16. Explore “Adulting 101” topics presented by the children’s services librarians. Links to project ideas will be made available on the library website and Facebook for viewing starting at 10 a.m.
• Make Art Fridays through July 31 at 10 a.m. Explore your creativity by creating crafts inspired by famous works of art. Links to project ideas will be made available on the library website, Facebook and YouTube for viewing starting at 10 a.m. each Friday.
• Harry Potter trivia. In honor of Harry’s birthday, take part in a virtual trivia event from July 27-31 on the library website.
Look for more from the South Pasadena Library on its YouTube and Instagram channels. Follow YouTube channel for video tutorials and story times.
Here are the options at the SPEF summer camps, which have moved online. The second session runs from July 13-Aug. 7. For more information and to register, visit

  • Dance exploration
  • Lego challenge
  • Mindfulness
  • Science exploration
  • Spanish language
  • Fun with fairy tales
  • Mandarin for DI students
  • PE virtual
  • Soccer online
  • Writing for comedy