With the beginning of summer comes the end of the school year. Instead of the classroom, kids of all ages will be spending their time in the parks, on the trails and, Summit County librarians hope, in the libraries.
“We’re trying to keep the kids reading as much as possible in the summer,” said library associate Rebecca Kane, who heads the young kids and toddler reading programs at the north branch library in Silverthorne.
To draw in young readers during the summer months, the Summit County Library system has a number of programs and incentives in place. Each year, the Summer Reading Program has a different theme.
For elementary school aged children, the theme this year is “Dig Into Reading,” which will include an emphasis on dinosaurs, digging and other fun nature and science-related themes.
Kicking off the summer reading program is long-time performer and live entertainer Ann Lincoln. In honor of the “Dig Into Reading” theme, Lincoln is taking on the identity of Dino Girl, a “crazy cavewoman” character. This will not be Lincoln’s first time performing in Summit County, although her act does take her to various birthday parties, events and other libraries throughout the state. She really enjoys the audiences that she finds in libraries.
“We get families, not just the kids, lots of different age groups of kids and we get the adults in there too and it’s a multi generation thing,” she said.
About performing in general, she said, “I’m a comedian at heart, so I just love it when people laugh.”
Lincoln’s routine is bound to draw some laughs from the audience. It involves magic tricks, juggling and various live animal helpers. It’s the high energy of the performance that draws kids in, she said.
“I think that they want to see what crazy thing is going to go on. They want to laugh and the animals are a big draw and I really like working with them,” she said. “Then throughout the show I just let them know that none of this stuff would be happening — it’s the honest truth — if I hadn’t researched and studied and taken what I found in books in my library and worked on it now. I’m pretty enthusiastic about that.”
One of Lincoln’s big tricks is juggling bowling balls while eating an apple.
“It was a tough one, but I was really inspired to do it,” she said. “I really wanted to do something unique and show little girls you can do something that you might think would require a big feat of strength.” The real keys, she added, are balance and concentration.
The main goal, aside from impressing her audience, is getting them involved in some way with reading. At the end of each performance, Lincoln has a list of suggested books.
“I hope that maybe it inspires them to find a subject that they really like and maybe it wont feel like schoolwork and they’ll come back with new knowledge,” she said.
The Summer Reading Program for kids works to incentivize them to continue reading throughout June and July. At the beginning of the program, each child can come into the library and pick up a goodie bag, which holds a variety of little prizes and tokens as well as a reading log.
Kids record their reading hours on the log. Once they have logged four hours, they can return to the library, turn in their log and receive a free book. They can do this as many times they want throughout the program, which runs until the end of July.
“It’s just another way to get the kids reading on their own,” Kane said. “It’s all about reading and trying to keep those kids with their nose in the book during the summer.”
Other guests this summer will include Rocky Mountain Puppets and the Denver Zoo with animals that burrow. Certified dogs will also be available for kids to sit and read with.
Traveling through books
Kids aren’t the only ones with incentives in the library. Middle school and high school students have their own summer reading program, which will be exploring a “Have Book — Will Travel” theme.
Starting June 3, teens can come into any Summit County Library and pick up a mini-suitcase filled with a variety of items, including a reading passport. The passport acts as a reading log. For every eight hours of reading, teens will receive a free paperback and an entry into a grand prize drawing, at the end of the program, for a mini laptop and $100 iTunes gift card.
“They can read any book , they can read magazines, newspaper, cereal boxes, they just have to keep track of their time,” said north branch library manager Janet Good. But they’ll have to prove they read it, she added. “They have to be prepared to tell us something about what they read.”
The program will end with a final party with the theme “The Amazing Chase.” Booths representing different countries will be set up with samples of food, games and crafts. On average, about 200 teens participate in the summer reading program each year, Good said.
“Reading is fun,” she added. “If they can’t afford to travel they can go anywhere they want in a book, and it will help them be ready for next school year.”
Kane said she will also be piloting a toddler reading program this summer at the Silverthorne branch. The focus will be on reading books out loud, finger play and singing songs. It never hurts to start children on the library early, Kane said.
“That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re really trying to have the kids, when the word ‘library’ is mentioned, then they think, ‘oh that was so much fun,’ ‘oh I remember this,’ trying to make an impression on them because when they’re adults, they’ll bring their kids to the library.”