By MICHELLE BEAHM
Local libraries are again hosting summer reading programs for children.
Every year, Kitsap Regional Library hosts these programs to encourage children to read during summer. Readers earn prizes at the completion of 10 hours of reading.
“There is a significant amount of research that shows that students who read during the summer time at least 10 hours, their reading proficiency either stays the same or increases from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next,” said Jeff Brody, KRL’s director of community relations.
According to Brody, those same studies also show that children who don’t read during the summer lose proficiency and start their next school year at a lower reading level than they were at at the end of the previous school year.
Prizes offered include a free book, which can be selected by the child participating in the program. These books are purchased by the KRL Foundation with money from private donations. Another prize: a free ticket to the Kitsap County Fair and Stampede. The fair donates 4,000 tickets every year to this program.
Each child who goes above and beyond and reads 100 hours this summer earns a T-shirt declaring the achievement.
Anyone age 18 and younger can participate in this program and earn prizes.
“I think often times parents feel that it’s like a school-age program, but I really want people to know that preschoolers participate,” said Shannon Peterson, KRL youth services manager.
“As long as families are reading together, as long as a child is sitting down with a book and is either reading or being read to, they are welcome to participate.”
There are a few different events held at each library branch this summer to encourage reading and participation, though participation in the program is not required to attend these free events.
The events include kickoff parties for the program. The Silverdale and Port Orchard branches hosted their parties June 1, Bainbridge Island hosted its kickoff June 8. The Bremerton library branch, 612 Fifth St., hosts its kickoff party June 15, 1-3 p.m. The Sylvan Way branch will host its kickoff June 29.
Other events, such as movies and educational events, are held at the nine KRL branches. For a complete list of events, go to www.KRL.org/kids.
“We’ll also do raffle drawings for kids that finish the program as well,” Peterson said. “At the end of summer, they’ll have a chance to win a gift card to either a local book store, if there’s one in their area, or to Barnes and Noble, for areas that don’t have a local book store.”
KRL has been hosting a summer reading program since 1975, according to Brody, but reading programs are held all across the country.
“It’s a very important program for early literacy and it’s something that libraries across the country participate in and have participated in for years and years,” Brody said. “We do this as part of our commitment to literacy and supporting education in Kitsap County.”
KRL hosts numerous events for all different age groups to encourage reading, not just the summer reading program.
“We’ve got a monthly Lego club that we do,” said Ericka Brunson, a children’s librarian at the KRL library on Sylvan Way in Bremerton.
“We show movies. We have a Read to a Dog program, which is an opportunity for kids to come and read to a certified therapy dog, so they go through training to be read to, essentially.”
Peterson said the library even has events for babies.
“We have baby dance parties, which is a fun way to get parents meeting and together and get little ones excited to spend time in the library and get used to the library and get to know our librarians as well,” she said.
There will be puppet shows this summer, and an event celebrating the upcoming “Mortal Instruments” movie through a book discussion, according to Peterson.
These events and programs are supported largely by the Friends of the Library, which helps to organize and fund many events throughout the year at all the different KRL branches.
“I know some Friends of the Library have done trivia nights or, you know, other activities to just kind of gain awareness and support the activities that the library does,” Peterson said. “They’re instrumental and huge in supporting our programs. We’re really lucky to have their support.”
Peterson was not new to summer reading programs when she joined KRL seven years ago. Growing up in a small town in Wyoming, she participated in the local summer reading program every year.
“I think it’s just such a wonderful way to celebrate kids learning and reading anything that they want to be reading, [and] that — you know — they can just sort of browse through the stacks and just follow their passion and follow their interest,” she said.
“There’s nothing assigned. It’s just the joy of learning and the joy of finding a new interest and finding a book that maybe you wouldn’t have time for during the school year.”
Other area libraries also offer summer reading programs for kids.
The Tracyton Community Library hosts “Reading Roundup” as its Summer Reading Program this year. It is open to all ages and the kickoff party will be at 2 p.m., on June 20. Free books will be awarded when participants reach 10 books read. There will also be an ice cream party at the end of the program in August.
Drop by the library at 351 NW Tracy Ave. or call (360) 377-3571.
— Michelle Beahm is an intern for the Central Kitsap Reporter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org