Libraries in 44 states offer a summer reading program to their communities, drawing from a four-inch-thick binder for story ideas, interactive workshops, crafts, and games, as well as their own deep pool of resources.
“Kids can lose up to six months of reading proficiency over the summer,” says Youngblood. The Summer Reading Program is a great way for them to keep up their reading skills, build upon the vocabulary they’ve gained over the school year, and, most important, “have fun reading what they’re interested in. We don’t expect kids to read all day,” adds Youngblood, “but to get in a half hour before bed is great.”
The Norwood Summer Reading Program is in its 26th year. Although it has not always been a state-sponsored program, Colorado always encouraged its librarians to offer some type of summer program to their communities. Now there is a state committee that coordinates with 43 states that host reading programs. Every library receives the same packet, bookmarks, and art work, and booksellers “know the theme and put together book packages for us to look at,” says Youngblood. “It’s become a really big deal.”
The focus is to have fun with books and reading. For example, just last week, a group of twelve kids played bug bingo, looking for damselflies, ticks, and spittlebugs on their cards while Youngblood called the game. As she drew the bug cards, she read aloud interesting facts from each one. “The adult spittlebug is called a froghopper,” she explained, while the kids scrunched their faces at the description of the bug’s protective covering of “spit.”
After games and stories (The Hungry Caterpillar and The Diary of a Fly), the group gathered around a large table to make butterflies with coffee filters, pipe cleaners and clothespins. It was an easy but engaging craft that any of the children could have continued with materials at home, creating a flurry of multi-colored fritillaries.
When the kids finished their butterflies, Youngblood invited them to “go stick your hand in the ‘wasp’s nest’ and get a prize!” Youngblood created the nest from papier-mâché and packing material, and then filled it with bug stickers, bug tattoos and bug finger puppets. There are also semi-weekly drawings children choose to sign a reading contract, committing to reading a certain number of pages, or for a certain number of minutes, by summer’s end. The children fill out reading logs, and then turn them in for chances to win insect- and outdoor-related items. Children who sign and finish contracts by the end of the summer will be invited to a build-your-own-sundae party before school begins.
The library invites children of all abilities, ages 4 to 12, to register, however no registration is required for Thursday’s Storytime. “Just show up and enjoy the events,” says Youngblood.
Summer Reading Programs in Nucla and Naturita
Down the road in Naturita, Julianne Michaels, the children’s program assistant at the Naturita Branch of the Montrose Regional Library, says there is “tons of stuff going on” there.
For preschool to second graders and third to fifth graders there is the “Catch the Reading Bug” program, culminating in a barbecue on July 30. On Thursdays, Program Director Susan Rice reads aloud to third through fifth graders from 11-11:45 a.m. and to sixth through twelfth graders from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Sixth to twelfth graders are also welcome to join the “Summer Tour,” a goth and rock program, 3-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, culminating in a Summer Tour party on July 26, complete with an open mic. Teens can also join an open mic on June 29 at 7 p.m. and an Open Forum on July 18 at 7 p.m.
“The Open Forum will be a ‘what’s on your mind,’ gathering – uncensored, really,” Michaels assures.
In addition to kids’ programs, Naturita Library offers a summer reading contest for guardians, grandparents, and parents who read to their children.
“These folks should be rewarded for the reading they do,” says Michaels. The first prize is dinner and one night of lodging in Montrose and the second prize is a dinner for two at Wayward Winds in Naturita.
Nucla library has a summer reading program as well, offering children, aged four to nine, a five-week summer reading program that culminates with a puppet show on the sixth week.
In addition to story times, West End libraries will host special events throughout the summer. In conjunction with UnBOCS and Parents as Teachers, the Norwood and Naturita libraries will host five summer play groups for toddlers, preschoolers, and moms. The play group themes include bugs, pets, shapes, and beach themes. The groups meet Wednesdays, June 18, and July 2, 9, and 23, from 10:30 to noon at the Naturita Branch Library, and from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Norwood Park behind Odle Field (by the San Miguel County Fairgrounds).
On June 20, from 11a.m. to 12 p.m., Ventriloquist and puppetteer Wayne Francis and his life-size puppet friend “Wingnut” will entertain children and caregivers at Norwood’s Log Cabin on June 20, 11 a.m.-noon. The Naturita library will then host Francis from 2-3 p.m. Francis and Wingnut are performing at libraries around the state this summer, so watch for them if you’re traveling.
For more information or to register for summer reading programs, drop by or call the Norwood Library at 327- 4833, Naturita Branch Library at 865-2848, and Nucla library at 864-2166.
Ellen Marie Metrick 2008