What was your favorite book to read as a child? Was there just one or did you love a series or character?
For Washington native Megan Rau, a graduate of Washington High School, it was “The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear.” The love of reading she developed as a child continues today.
Rau, who now works as a doctor in New York City, will be one of a dozen young professionals who will share why “Reading Rocks!” as part of The Missourian’s annual Summer Reading Program, which will run from May 30 to July 8 in both the Wednesday and Weekend issues.
Each summer, the newspaper runs an educational series designed to keep kids reading over their summer break from school. In the past, the program has always featured a serial story or a lesson, but this year the program aims for their hearts.
“It’s less about teaching kids and more about inspiring them,” said Dawn Kitchell, The Missourian’s educational services director. “Usually we give them a serial story or try and teach something, and this year’s series is more about just inspiring them to read.”
Among the young professionals being featured this summer are a graduate of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School who is now a professional soccer player, a Washingtonn High School graduate who is now a professional basketball player, and a WHS graduate who works as a radio DJ on The Bull, 93.7 FM.
There also will be a police officer, park ranger, veterinarian, world traveler and more.
Each will share his or her favorite book from childhood, as well as what book they are reading now and a sentence or two on why they believe reading is important.
It’s a simple, but hopefully effective approach to inspiring young people to read, said Kitchell, noting it’s an idea taken from the American Library Association. She has seen READ posters in school libraries across Washington and wanted to adapt the idea for the summer reading program.
Kitchell, who last summer opened the Neighborhood Reads bookstore in Downtown Washington, has heard many inspiring stories from adults in that time about how proximity to good quality reading material coupled with the right motivation made the difference for them.
One 29-year-old man told her how all of his life he has hated to read, but then a year ago he picked up a book that got him hooked. He isn’t sure what motivated him to get started, but it was the right book at the right time and over the last year, he has read 12 books.
Win a Thursday Ticket to Washington Fair
“Reading Rocks!” is the theme for this year’s Missourian In Education Summer Reading Program, and while the approach may have changed this year, the prizes have not.
All children who complete the program will earn a free child’s ticket to the Washington Town & Country Fair for Thursday, Aug. 2, when The Missourian and Bank of Franklin County hold the annual Reader Recognition Ceremony in the Family Fun Center.
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 create their own READ poster and will identify eight of the books that were recommended by the young professionals in the newspaper.
The entry form also includes a blank space where children can either draw a picture of themselves or attach a photo and then list their own favorite children’s book, what they are reading now and a sentence about why they feel reading is important.
Families should mail or deliver the completed form to the Washington Town & Country Fair office. The Fair staff will mail back to them a voucher for a free child’s ticket, along with a coupon to receive a free drink from the Fair’s main lunch stand.
Reading Nook and Treasure Hunt at the Fair
The Missourian and the Bank of Franklin County will host a new Summer Reading Nook set up all five days of the Washington Town & Country Fair this year. Located inside the air-conditioned Exhibitor Building, the nook will include a place for families to sit together and read. There will be a variety of children’s books available, and the entry form “READ posters” that children created will be on display.
“We’re excited about providing a place at the Fair that families can sit and read together,” Kitchell said. “And our goal is to put on display the kids’ READ posters that they submit as their entry forms. Hopefully, the series inspires them, and their posters inspire others.”
Also new at the Fair this year will be a Reading Rocks Treasure Hunt held Thursday, Aug. 2, at 4 p.m. just prior to the Reader Recognition Ceremony that will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Families will be given a treasure map to help them find a limited number of “Reading Rocks!” hidden on the Fairgrounds. Each reader who finds a rock and brings it to the Reader Recognition Ceremony will receive a “Reading Rocks!” T-shirt sponsored by the Bank of Franklin County.
Berenstain Bears Are Coming to Fair
Papa Bear and Mama Bear, from The Berenstain Bears popular children’s book series will be the special guests at the Reader Recognition Ceremony at the Washington Town & Country Fair Thursday, Aug. 2.
Paperback copies of a Berenstain Bears book will be given to every family who attends, while supplies last, compliments of the Bank of Franklin County, which has sponsored The Missourian’s Summer Reading Program since its inception in 2001.
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 2019 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. 2, 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.
Not Just for Kids
Hoping to get adults involved in the reading theme, this year’s summer reading effort has another new twist. Neighborhood Reads bookstore has donated books to create a Reading Rewards basket just for adults. The adult Reader Reward Basket will be given away through a social media campaign online to coincide with the youth program.
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.
All totaled, more than 23,000 Summer Reader Booklets 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.
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 www.emissourian.com.
The Missourian In Education’s Summer Reading Program is sponsored by the Bank of Franklin County and the Washington Town & Country Fair.