Summer Reading Program

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the first American astronauts blasting into space to explore the moon, and The Missourian is celebrating that by challenging children to explore the universe of stories available to them in the newspaper and in books.

On the morning of July 16, 1969, the crew of the Apollo 11 — Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins — climbed into their rocket and headed into the unknown.

It took the astronauts four days to reach the moon, nearly 240,000 miles away. When Armstrong stepped onto the moon and knew their mission had changed the world, he said that now-famous line, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“Most of us won’t fly to the moon, but we can still get there — and anywhere else we dream of going — inside books,” said Dawn Kitchell, The Missourian’s educational services director.

Armstrong knew that too. When he was a child in Wapakoneta, Ohio, he read about flying, said Kitchell. He built model airplanes and looked up at the moon through a homemade telescope. Back on Earth after the 1969 mission, he urged children to visit the library and explore books.

“Each book holds an experience and an adventure,” Armstrong wrote in a 1971 letter to children at his local library. “Through books you will meet poets and novelists whose creations will fire your imagination. . . . All of this knowledge is yours for the taking.”

The Missourian strives to help kids do just that with its annual summer reading program, an educational series designed to keep kids reading over their summer break from school. In the past, the program has featured a serial story or a lesson. Last year’s program, which featured a dozen young professionals who grew up here sharing their favorite children’s book, aimed to inspire kids to read.

This year’s program, “Launch Into Summer Reading,” will explore the solar system, with features and activities that spotlight the eight planets and, of course, the Moon. Features will be included in the Weekend Missourian from the June 1-2 issue to the July 20-21 issue.

“Our goal is to produce a resource that highlights all the reading programs offered in our area throughout the summer,” Kitchell said. “This is the 19th year for this partnership project with Bank of Franklin County — we really believe in the importance of kids reading over the summer.”

Evening of Astronomy May 31

To launch this year’s summer reading program, The Missourian is partnering with the Washington Public Library’s program to hold a free family Launch Into Summer Reading celebration Friday, May 31, from 7 to 9 p.m. on the library parking lot at the corner of Lafayette and Fourth streets.

The Eastern Missouri Dark Sky Observers will have their telescopes set up for viewing the night sky, and a giant model of the solar system will be on display. Entertainment will include the Bubble Bus and other activities.

In addition to all of the fun, children can sign up for the library’s summer reading program.

‘Splashdown’ Party’ at Washington Fair

All children ages 5 to 15 who complete The Missourian’s Summer Reading Program will earn a free child’s ticket to the Washington Town & Country Fair for Thursday, Aug. 8, when The Missourian and Bank of Franklin County hold the annual Reader Recognition Ceremony in the Family Fun Center.

This year’s celebration at the Fair is being dubbed a “Splashdown Party,” which is what NASA called the celebration for Apollo 11’s achievement.

To get started, pull out the Summer Reader Booklet inserted in this issue of the newspaper. In it, you will find the entry form where children will complete their “Mission Journal Bio.” This will become the cover of their own Mission Journal, which they will create by cutting out the eight journal entries included in each weekend’s feature.

Families should mail or deliver the completed Mission Journals to the Washington Town & Country Fair office. The Fair staff will mail back to them a voucher for a free child’s ticket for Aug. 8, along with a coupon to receive a free drink from the Fair’s main lunch stand.

As always, a grand prize Reader Reward Basket will be awarded to one lucky child. Everyone who completes The Missourian’s Summer Reading Program will be entered.

The basket will include a season pass to the 2020 Washington Town & Country Fair, Fair memorabilia and a variety of Missourian Book Buzz books.

The winner of the Reader Reward Basket must be present at the ceremony Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Fair to accept the prize. But every child who completes The Missourian’s summer reading program also will be entered in a drawing to win one of 10 $10 Neighborhood Reads gift certificates.

The Bank of Franklin County will give away free copies of a children’s book to families, while supplies last.

More details on the “Splashdown Party” at the Fair are still being planned. Watch The Missourian for details.

More Ways to Read

Copies of the Summer Reader Booklet, which can be found inserted in this issue of The Missourian, also are being distributed to schools that requested them in Franklin and Warren counties and to both Scenic Regional Library and Washington Public Library to include with their summer reading program information.

The booklet also is available at Missourian offices, Bank of Franklin County branches and at the Washington Town & Country Fair office.

That’s more than 24,000 copies of the Summer Reader Booklets that have been printed.

The Summer Reader Booklet is intended to be a guide to reading over the summer and features summer activities offered by Scenic Regional libraries and Washington Public Library. There’s even a page highlighting The Missourian’s Book Buzz youth literacy program.

Book Buzz Picks for July focus on the Apollo mission and the Moon. The Youngest Pick is “Moon! Earth’s Best Friend,” by Stacy McAnulty and Stevie Lewis; the Middle Pick is “The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon,” by Dean Robbins and Sean Rubin; and the Oldest Pick is a nonfiction title, “When We Walked on the Moon,” by David Long and Sam Kalda, about all of the different Apollo missions.

Children can look for copies of the Book Buzz Picks at their public library and local bookstore and submit the reviews early.

Children who write and submit reviews by the 15th of the following month are eligible to have their review published in The Missourian and win the next month’s Book Buzz Pick from the Washington Optimist Club.

Complete rules for The Missourian’s Summer Reading Program are available on the Missourian In Education page at

The Missourian In Education Summer Reading Program is sponsored by the Bank of Franklin County and the Washington Town & Country Fair.