Summer Reading Program returns to library

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM — Sisters Caroline and Matilda Claus look at the stuffed animals they could earn in the Summer Reading Program for youth. Their mother, Angie, signed them up for the program while visiting the Marshalltown Public Library on Wednesday.

The Summer Reading Program is back at the Marshalltown Public Library. The annual event began Thursday, and will continue through Aug. 13 for youth and Aug. 21 for adults. There is no deadline to sign up.

Katie Fink, public services and technology manager for the library, is in charge of the adult program, and Joa LaVille, youth services manager, is running the youth program. Even though the program is for all ages, it was stressed they are separate.

Youth challenge

Angie Claus signed up her daughters – Caroline, 8, and Matilda, 5 – for the program, and they were very eager to participate.

“I love the prizes,” Caroline said.

Angie homeschools her children, and said they participate in library challenges throughout the year.

“We are signing up for this because I love how it keeps kids motivated to read,” she said.

According to LaVille, more than 200 youth signed up for the challenge before it kicked off.

“They sign up and track their reading,” she said. “We ask kids to read or be read to at least 10 or 15 minutes most days. They mark those days and are rewarded for tracking the days.”

Youth can read whatever they choose, LaVille said. It does not even have to be in book form. They can listen to audiobooks, read ebooks and even read a favorite book again.

“Everything counts. It can be their own books, their grandma’s books or the library’s books,” she said.

LaVille added people do not have to utilize the Beanstack app or a computer in order to track their reading times. She said people can track their reading on paper, bring it to the library, and the staff will enter it into the system.

LaVille said there are also activity badges youth can earn, which are varied. Youth have 14 activities to choose from, such as learning how to do something new from a how-to book, or attending a program at the library, such as Family Fun on the Lawn: Bechtel’s Critters on June 14.

Youth can earn a Bronze Prize by reading 10 days and earning one activity badge; a Silver Prize through reading 30 days and earning three badges; and a Gold Prize by reading 50 days and earning five badges.

LaVille said the Summer Reading Program began in the country in the 1970s to address summer learning loss. As a result of a study regarding summer learning loss, libraries responded with the program.

“The point is to keep kids thinking and learning and reading over the summer so they don’t experience that loss,” she said.

LaVille said some of the benefits from participating in the youth program is the fun, and giving them something to do during the months when school is out.

“It’s free. It’s fun. It’s something that is good for the kids,” she said. “I think sometimes misunderstandings are barriers, like coming to the library on a certain day or reading certain books.”

Adult program

Participants in the adult program can pick and choose what books they want to read. Fink said the more popular books for adults tend to be best sellers, such as the latest James Patterson or Nora Roberts.

“One big series of books that has become popular in the last year or so is Richard Osman’s ‘Thursday Murder Club’ series which is a funny mystery series set in a retirement village in the U.K.,” she said.

For adults, they can read and participate in activities to gain entries for the prizes. Unlike the youth activities, there are 22 adult activities and some are more broad, such as choosing any book to read. Other activities are more specific, such as attending a movie at the library or reading the 2023 All Iowa Reads book.

Even though youth tend to be the primary participants in the challenge, Fink said there has been an increase in the number of adults.

“Reading is good for your brain at any age,” she said. “We want to encourage people to stay active in that way, and attend our summer programs.”

Last year, more than 200 participants joined the adult program, and usually there are only 100 to 150. Fink said the adult program lasts longer than the youth due to a special event on Aug. 20. The library will host “Ghost Towns of Marshall County” featuring Dave Baker, and adults will have a chance to include it in their program activities.

“He did a program here a few years ago and said he had all new information to share,” she said.

Prizes in the adult program include tote bags, Chamber Bucks and gift certificates for local businesses, such as Hy-Vee, Calvin Rockett Bar and Grill, Fridley Theatres and Brown’s Shoe Fit Co.

“Reading books, attending events, all give you entries into our prize drawings at the end of the challenge,” Fink said.


Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.


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