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Summer Reading Program Helps Kids Develop Love of Reading

The libraries are a little calmer these days, with school starting and the Summer Reading Program having come to a close. That’s the reading initiative the library offers in May to August. It encourages book lovers to keep reading, and gets many non-readers excited about books.

As one parent told us, “At the beginning of the summer, Sam said he did not like reading but by the end he said he liked reading!"

We’re happy to report that there were many kids like Sam among the more than 18,000 children and teens who participated in the program this year. That’s 14 percent more than last summer’s participation.

Another parent explained, “Because of the (theme’s) emphasis on underground creatures, digging, etc., my son and I read a book on chipmunks. I probably would not have picked up this book if not for the reading emphasis. He LOVED it, and we read it again and again. He learned a lot of facts about chipmunks.”

As Youth Services Coordinator Nancee Dahms-Stinson explains, “Parents know that when children are encouraged to read books that interest them, their reading skills strengthen and their love for reading grows.”

Each year we combine the program with incentives and prizes to encourage and reward young readers. We’re grateful to all of the companies and area attractions that offered free treats and admission to area attractions on the Food ‘n Fun Flipcard and prizes.

We add to the mix a lineup of storytellers; live animal programs, comedians and musicians at libraries and town centers. We also sponsor offsite programs with our community partners, the ice park, Riverbluff Cave, steam engine grounds and others.

Many kids spend their summers at day camps and clubs, so the youth services and outreach staffs took the books and activities to them through Summer Reading To Go. Even if they can’t go to the library, they still get in on the fun, complete their reading hours and earn the incentives, too.

Nearly 7,000 children and teens participated at 110 different summer outreach sites, more than last year’s 5,790.

We received a lot of thank-yous from the kids who didn’t have to miss out this summer. One of our favorites was this simple message from a child who got our message: “Books have magic.”
 

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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