June 5th, 2009
I know that summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st but in the library world, summer begins whenever Summer Reading starts, which was June 1st this year.
Summer Reading always brings back memories and I remember one summer in particular. During the summer of 1976, I was eleven years old lived on a U.S. Air Force base in Croughton, England. I was a shy, introverted child and my family moved around a lot when I was growing up. I had friends among the other children in the family housing where we lived, but most days I preferred to ride my bike to the base library and read. The librarian was kind to me (I wish I could remember her name!) and signed me up for the summer reading program. Since it was the bicentennial year, the program theme was “Modern American Explorer” and I had to read books that were loosely about America. There were classic children’s novels like My Friend Flicka and Little Women, and biographies of famous Americans like Annie Oakley, Robert Frost and George Westinghouse. I particularly remember a non-fiction series about how things were made during colonial times like hats, wigs and shoes. For the reading program, I received a large cardboard map of the United States, and for every book I read and told the librarian about, I received a sticker with a different state that I could paste on my map. It took a while to fill in all those tiny East coast states, but the map really filled in quickly once I made it west of the Mississippi. I filled in my entire map and then started a new one and this time I started from the West coast. I ended up reading 82 books that summer. I don’t recall receiving any prizes for reading along the way, but I do recall an end-of-summer party where they gave out prizes. I did it just to read and get that darn map filled in. I guess it’s no surprise that I turned out to be a librarian.
Summer Reading at the Morgan County Public Library has quite a bit more to it than stickers on a card to encourage readers. The children’s program “Be Creative @ Your Library” rewards children with small prizes for every 2 hours that they read or are read to and there’s no set list of books that they have to choose from. There are free, fun programs every week that they can attend. You can go to our web page to see what’s going on. Registration may be required for the programs, so check with your local branch.
The Teen program is “Express Yourself @ Your Library.” Teens get prizes like wrist bands, buttons, pens and t-shirts for reading a certain number of pages, plus they can earn entries for an end-of-summer raffle. Last year’s raffle grand prize was an I-Pod. There are some great teen programs too, like henna tattoos (parental permission required!), bleached t-shirts, Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, movies and parties.
Adults are encouraged to “Master the Art of Reading.” Adults read books and submit mini-reviews on them. After four books, they receive a beautiful pewter lapel pin in the shape of an open book. Each mini-review is also an entry to an end of summer raffle for tote bags loaded with books and goodies.
As always, all of our programs are free, so if the economy has forced you into a ’staycation’ this year, at least you can still get out to the library and do something together as a family. We hope to see you soon!