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Reading programs making a splash

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Catherine W. Idzerda
June 1, 2010
— Outside, it might be too hot to play.

Inside, it’s perfect for reading.


Libraries all over Rock and Walworth counties are gearing up for their summer reading programs.


The programs are mostly about fun. Librarians pull out the stops to find the most engaging books for all ages and kinds of kids, including those who would rather Wii than read.


At Hedberg Public Library and other libraries in the Arrowhead system, the summer reading program, “Make a Splash: Read!,” gives kids a chance to earn small prizes by progressing through a series of punch cards that track the number of minutes they read.


For teens at Hedberg, the theme is “Diving into an Ocean of Books.” The theme and its accompanying activities were designed, in part, by the library’s teen advisory board.


Like the children’s program, it encourages teens to read to fill up punch cards with a certain number of reading minutes for prizes. It also allows them to win bonus prizes by writing online book reviews and participating in other activities.


Some of the prizes include beach balls, coupons for Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas, lanyards, pool passes, books, movie passes and chances to win larger prizes.


The programs are partially about having fun—fun at the library, fun with books and fun with the imaginative escape books can provide.


But they’re also about motivating non-readers and helping kids get ready for the new school year.


“Kids lose so much in the summer,” said children’s librarian Julie Westby. “They call it the summer slide.”


For Laurie Bartz, young adult librarian, the summer reading program gives tweens and teens the opportunity to plan their own activities, connect with readers their age and, perhaps, bring more young people into library.


“The programs help some that wouldn’t have read as much; it’s motivating for them,” Bartz said.


Librarians have book lists for each age group, and tweens and teens should rest assured that books such as “The Red Badge of Courage” aren’t on the list.


Not that there’s anything wrong with the “Red Badge of Boredom”—uh, “Courage”—but it’s not a book that necessarily resounds with today’s young people.


They might prefer “The Lightening Thief,” Rick Riordan’s latest entry in his Olympians series about the literature’s earliest superheroes.


Or “Flush” by Carl Hiaasen, the story about two kids who fight a floating casino that is dumping its bilge tanks around their Florida Keys home. It’s a great adventure story, and funny, too.


What about my kids?

Almost every library features a summer reading program. There are plenty of variations, so call or visit your nearest public library for information.


Just a few of the highlights include:


Milton Public Library, 430 East High St., (608) 868-7462. 1 p.m. Monday, June 14, bike parade and ice cream kick off for the summer reading program.


Clinton Public Library, 214 Mill St, (608) 676-5984. From noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 23, the library is hosting “Rocking the Boat.” Kids can see the Rock County Sheriff’s Office "unsinkable" rescue boat and rescue equipment. Meet special guests Sgt. Ken Marquardt and Deputy Matt Pyne of the Rock County Sheriff’s Recreational Safety Boat Team. Registration is required.


Lake Geneva Public Library, 918 W. Main St., (262-249-5299). Kids enrolled in this program have a chance to win a party for 10 at the Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark.



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