In a time when civil discourse is becoming rarer, this year’s theme for the library’s summer reading challenge, Building a Better World, may be a welcome message. The library will host family fun nights Wednesday evenings throughout July and August. According to children’s librarian Stephanie McElrath, the events focus on concepts such as teamwork through participation in “humongous games” with jumbo Jenga blocks and giant bowling pins, creativity by helping create a mural in the downstairs hallway, and caring via introducing children to therapy donkeys during an event called “Little Brays of Sunshine.”
Meant to prevent the “summer slide” that students are prone to, losing the gains in reading skills they’ve made throughout the school year without practice in the summer, the program encourages kids to keep reading. Children who sign up for the challenge receive prizes throughout the summer for reading.
Children of all ages can sign up. Those who are not yet reading on their own can listen to stories read to them by their parents or other caregivers. For every 15 minutes they are read to, the young children color in a square on a game board. Each time five squares are colored in, they can return to the library for a prize.
Elementary-school children, who were likely introduced to the challenge at school during an assembly at which librarian McElrath introduced the program, can also sign up as independent readers. “Teachers and school librarians also assist in getting the word out to students,” she said. “They know the importance of reading throughout vacation to prevent summer slide.” These youngsters, too, keep track of their reading in 15-minute increments, and when they visit the library they can roll a four-sided die. Each number on the die corresponds to a box with prizes in it – one with ice cream coupons, one with raffle tickets for a large set of LiteBrix, and others with various prizes.
If kids can complete the entire challenge, twelve and a half hours of reading during the summer, they can dress up in the “nutty inventor” costume shown on the library’s website, and have their picture taken and displayed on the wall in the children’s room.
For teens, the challenge is a little different. Instead of tracking the time the read, they are challenged to track the books they read. At the end of the summer, they have a pizza party and receive awards for gift certificates to local business such as Inquiring Minds Bookstore, Hudson Valley Dessert Company, Lox of Bagels, The Wise Owl, and Dallas Hot Wieners.
The teens have their own events, too, throughout the summer, including Cupcake Wars and Minute to Win it games, which will be held Wednesdays at 3.
Adults too can sign up for the reading challenge. Each time they check out a book or audio book, they will receive one raffle ticket. Weekly drawings will be held. Winners will receive a 100th anniversary library tote bag filled with books.
Library patrons can sign up for any of the challenges through July.