Springfield, Ore. In the library parking lot on a typical summer day, families pile into mini-vans carrying their enormous loads of books. Excited children scurry along with their parents up the steps to the library entrance. Inside the library, children play on computers, roam the aisles for books and sit at tables reading and doing craft projects.
The Springfield public library welcomes all kinds of people. But this summer, the library is targeting children with their summer reading program. And the children are coming in droves.
To join the summer reading club, children need to pick up a reading record, a form the library uses to assess the number of books a child has read, from the library. Free, new books purchased by the library with a Comcast grant are given to children when they sign up.
Children get to choose a new book off a cart to add to their own collection at home. Then, they need to set a reading goal of how many books they think that can successfully finish this summer and begin reading. Once their summer reading goal is met, students earn a pass to Splash! Lively Park Swim Center.
At one table on a recent Wednesday afternoon sat Brynne W., a soon to be sixth grader, and two of her friends. With the sound of computer keys clicking and the voices of children surrounding them, the three girls sat at a shrunken wooden table cutting out paper elephants for a library craft project.
Brynne said she signed up for the summer reading program “because I like the library and to read.” She said her favorite activity is reading; she spends between a half hour and an hour reading everyday. The library’s summer reading club offers Brynne motivation to continue reading while school is out by giving away prizes for meeting summer reading goals.
The Springfield public library has implemented the summer reading club for many years. And it has always been met with success said Barbara Thompson, the youth services manager, who has worked at the library for 17 years and oversees the program. Last year over 1,100 children signed up.
One feature of the summer reading club is that it is open to children of all ages.
“You don’t have to be a reader to join the summer reading club,” said Barbara Thompson. For children who are not yet reading on their own, a “Read-to-Me” form is available. It allows parents to record the book titles that they read to their children. These children also get to choose a free book to take home when they sign up. In order to complete the program they must listen to at least 20 books throughout the summer. If successful, they will also receive a pass to the Splash! wave pool.
The “Super Duper Reading Challenge” is a second option for children. It requires them to read one book each from 15 different categories, including award winning books, poetry, biography and mystery. Children who complete the challenge earn a free pass to Camp Putt Adventure Golf Park.
To challenge herself, Brynne has chosen the “Super Duper” alternative this summer. After just four weeks, she had already finished eight of the required books. With more than half of her goal met already, Brynne has time to sit and talk with friends.
The Springfield Public Library is located at 225 5th Street in Springfield