Local reading programs kept children engaged this past summer, with 1,770 children and teens completing the programs organized by The Missourian, Washington Public Library and the Scenic Regional libraries.
Research consistently supports that young readers who do not read over the summer lose essential skills, especially in comprehension and vocabulary. Summer projects such as The Missourian’s and those sponsored by the Washington Public Library and Scenic Regional libraries provide incentives to keep young readers engaged when schools are on hiatus.
This summer marked the 12th year The Missourian, through its Missourian In Education program, organized a summer reading project to keep young readers engaged. More than 300 children completed the program – which means they read the newspaper at least once a week through July.
The Missourian provided a series in the newspaper for eight weeks following the national library theme, “Dream Big -- Read!” The theme’s goal was to encourage children to aspire to greatness. The newspaper series highlighted biographies of American’s who achieved greatness and suggested further opportunities to read about other successful Americans. It encouraged young readers to seek out the suggested books at their local libraries.
The Bank of Franklin County has sponsored the Missourian’s Summer Reading Program since its inception. With its support, 21,678 copies of the Summer Reader Booklet, providing information on all the local summer reading programs, were distributed throughout the area.
“A child’s ability to read is one of the keys that lead to success in school,” said Bob Dobsch, president of Bank of Franklin County. “Reading should always be encouraged and the Summer Reading Program is a wonderful way to encourage kids to read year-round, not just during the school year.”
For the past 10 years, the Washington Town & Country Fair has partnered with The Missourian to provide a free ticket to the Fair for the children who complete the newspaper’s program.
This year, The Missourian surveyed parents on the effectiveness of the newspaper’s program, and found overwhelming satisfaction. Nearly 90 percent of families use the reading incentive ticket to attend the Fair. That same number approved of the eight-week duration of the newspaper program, and three-fourths said they attend the reading event The Missourian organizes at the Fair.
The Washington Public Library had 570 children and teens finish its summer reading program, which offers incentives for children to read materials of their choice daily. Children’s librarian Ruth McInnis said 1,289 young readers registered for the program initially, an increase of 200 over 2011. McInnis said 44 percent of those who registered completed the program by submitting final reading logs.
In addition to prizes, including T-shirts, for those who participated throughout the summer, the Washington Library held many events for all ages of readers – story times, Legos Club, a visit from Llama from the Llama, Llama books by Anna Dewdney, puppet shows, astronomy session, a naturalist night hike, creative workshop with the Girl Scouts, a teen zombie party, and a popular Stuffed Animal Sleepover. (A video of the sleepover can be viewed from a link on the Missourian In Education Facebook page, www.facebook.com/missourianineducation.)
The Scenic Regional Library System had activities throughout the summer at its branches in Union, Warrenton, Owensville, Pacific, St. Clair, New Haven, and Hermann, and in conjunction with its Bookmobile. Christy Schink, children’s librarian for Scenic, said 2,305 children signed up to read through Scenic’s branches and 900 completed the program through late July. Scenic’s special summer reading events included story time, Kid’s Club for grades 1-5 with books, crafts and games, and teen programs.
“In June we had Troy Roark and his Glow-in-the-dark Juggling show at Union, St. Clair and Warrenton,” Schink said. “It was a struggle to darken the libraries enough for the show, but it was well worth it. Sitting the dark, watching the glowing balls fly through the air was magical.”
Schink said all branches had a Big Games program in July, featuring extra large pick-up sticks and a 6-foot Kerplunk game.
Dawn Kitchell, educational services director for The Missourian, said all of the programming by the newspaper and libraries paid off.
“Our combined efforts kept thousands of children reading during the summer,” Kitchell said. “The libraries and the newspaper had more than 3,800 children reading and our Summer Reader Booklet was widely distributed to share the message to all ages that reading, like any skill, must be practiced even when kids aren’t in school, to maintain success.”