In the summer months, many public libraries encourage people in the community to read. Many children and teenagers are accustomed to obligatory reading during school, so they read less in the summer. Reading programs are designed to combat this issue by providing rewards or making it a competition. This year, the Marshall Public Library in Pocatello, Idaho, is hosting its reading program, “Imagine Your Story.”
Unlike other years, this year’s program will be held online due to COVID-19. In the past, program patrons would register in person and receive physical reading logs to track their reading. This year, members can register and track their reading online. Unfortunately, that means that the events the library typically hosts in honor of its reading program are canceled. However, the library staff has created challenges that the competitors can do at home each week instead of attending an event at the library.
“Imagine Your Story” is a national collaborative summer reading program. In previous years, they’ve had themes with elements of space and superheroes. The themes are selected years in advance so that special art can be developed along with prizes. This year, as the Marshall Public Library hosts the program, “Imagine Your Story,” think about how your life would look if it was a storybook!
The “Imagine Your Story” reading program is broken up into four groups: preschool and kindergarten, elementary, teens, and adults. This helps the library staff create age-appropriate challenges and group people together with the right requirements for their education level. The elementary group consists of kids in first to fifth grade, teens are in sixth to twelfth grade, and adults are eighteen and older. Each group has different requirements for the program.
The reading goal for the preschool and kindergarten age group is to read 1000 minutes or more. Kids who accomplish this goal will receive a free book at 500 minutes and 1000 minutes. While this seems like a lot, broken down its only 20 minutes per day.
The goal for these age groups is to read 1200 minutes or more. Similar to the preschool and kindergarten challenge, they will receive a free book at 600 minutes and again at 1200 minutes. It will take about 25 minutes of reading every day to reach this challenge.
Adults have the challenge of reading 3000 pages or more. Unlike the other age groups, they do not get a free book prize for making it halfway. Adults can read multiple shorter books or a few longer ones as long as they make it 3000 pages.
Those who finish the program will be entered into drawings for a grand prize. The grand prizes may include gift cards, theme-related treasures, and more! Even if you simply enter the program you will receive a fun key chain.
Besides trying to reach a number of minutes or pages read, the “Imagine Your Story” reading program also has weekly challenges to encourage reading. The weekly challenges are also divided by age group so they are appropriately designed. There are about 25-30 total challenges that were designed by the staff in charge of each age group. As challenges are completed, the online program enters that child’s name into the drawing for grand prizes they can win at the end of the summer.
Some of the challenges for the preschool and kindergarten aged children include making a simple recipe with a grownup, making art with nature pieces, and going cloud-gazing! Kathryn Poulter, the employee in charge of the elementary age group has planned a challenge to encourage kids to build a cozy den and read in it. She remembers doing this with her brothers and sisters as they were growing up and having a blast. She hopes the children will have as much fun as she did.
Besides reading, the Marshall Public Library also supports creative activities. They’ve included a chalk week to “Imagine Your Story” on any sidewalk the participant chooses and to submit it to social media with the hashtag: #MPLSummerReading2020. There is also an activity to draw dragon eyes and decorate them however you want. Submit them on social media with the same hashtag. Both of these activities are for all youth.
For teens, they have magical recipes to try. The first week the recipe was a breakfast magic oatmeal bake, which is made with eggs, yogurt, pumpkin puree, oats, nuts, and berries. The recipe for the second week was a Monster Book of Books. It’s made with crackers, marshmallows, M&Ms, coconut flakes, and chocolate frosting.
During the school year, elementary school children are encouraged to read in the yearly “Mayor’s Million Minute Marathon.” The kids are encouraged to read and keep a timesheet of the minutes they’ve read each day. At the end of a few weeks, the minutes are tallied and the schools with the most minutes, the most percentage of participation, and the highest average per child receive prizes.
This summer, the librarians at Marshall Public Library are challenging the children to read as much during the summer as they read during the last Mayor’s Marathon. The bar is set high, but it is possible! They hope that having an achievable goal and making it a competition, people, children especially, will participate in the summer reading program.
The Associate Director of the Marshall Public Library expressed her feelings toward reading programs by saying, “Summer reading programs are important because they engage children in reading all summer long. It’s important to keep kids learning, even though school is out.”
If you or your family want to challenge yourselves this summer, register for the “Imagine Your Story,” at the Marshall Public Library in Pocatello, Idaho. Registration is open during the entire program—until August 14—so it’s not too late to get started on your summer reading. If you can’t go on a vacation, try reading, books will take you anywhere you want to go! Happy reading!