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Pol challenges kids to read

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Library Card Act, which made it mandatory for the city Department of Education to distribute library-card applications to students citywide, the law’s creator, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) hand-delivered cards to PS 199 students last Thursday.

“I’m feeling crazy because I’m so excited,” said Stephen Prendergas, 6, one of the first-graders from PS 199, at 39-20 48th Ave., in Sunnyside, who received a gold library card when he visited the Sunnyside Library last Thursday. The Sunnyside Library is at 43-06 Greenpoint Ave.

The law was the first to be written by Van Bramer, the former chief external affairs officer for the Queens Library. It requires the DOE to give applications for library cards to incoming kindergarten, sixth-grade and ninth-grade students. Van Bramer said this law brings the applications into the home and thus makes it easier for the parents to see them.

“We know that there are still far too many children who don’t have library cards and we have to do everything we can to reduce the barriers that exist,” Van Bramer said.

He said that since the law was enacted, city libraries as a whole have distributed 60,000 new cards to children throughout the city, with 23,000 of those cards for the Queens Library system.

Tom Galante, chief executive officer of the Queens Library, said the act had been important to the library.

“He’s a great, great advocate of public libraries,” Galante said of Van Bramer.

The councilman told the students from PS 199 he was excited to get a library card when he was growing up in Astoria, and the students also seemed enthusiastic as they perused the books available for them to borrow at the Sunnyside Library.

Isabella Quan, 6, picked up a Judy Blume novel because her class is reading other books by the author. She said she enjoyed reading.

“There’s a lot of pictures and words and you can learn stuff from them,” Quan said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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