With the weather improving and COVID-19 restrictions easing, local libraries are seeing interest in their in-person summer reading programs on the rise.
At Wednesday’s North Manchester Town Council meeting, North Manchester Public Library (NMPL) director Diane Randall said during their annual report that they were pleasantly surprised at the local response to the start of their annual program which began Tuesday, June 1.
Randall said after going virtual last year, the summer reading program participation in the library itself was approaching normal levels again this year.
Wabash Carnegie Public Library (WCPL) community outreach coordinator Rachel Castle said they were also busy preparing for their summer reading program, which began Friday, June 4 “with incentives and programs for all ages throughout June and July.”
Castle said the theme of this year’s WCPL summer reading program is “Tails and Tales” and “will focus on beloved animals in literature and beyond.”
Castle said WCPL readers of all ages can begin logging points their points by visiting www.wabashreads.readsquared.com or through the READSquared app on any mobile device.
“The staff at WCPL is happy to help, by phone or in person, anyone struggling with the online registration process,” said Castle.
Castle said there are four reading groups in this year’s program: pre-readers, for preschool age and younger; kids, for those in kindergarten through fifth grade); teens, for students in sixth through 12th grades; and adults, for those 18 years and older.
Castle said for pre-readers and kids, each minute read will count as a point. Teens and adults will earn points per page read, or minutes, in the case of audiobooks. Prizes will be awarded based on accumulating points, though point totals vary per age group. Teens will also win raffle entries for small prizes along the way.
“Incentives have always been fun motivators for everyone in this program,” said Castle. “We’ve restructured our prizes a bit this year to add a more competitive element that, we believe, will create an additional spark of excitement.”
Castle said one of the new features of the summer reading program this year is a prize for the reader in each age group that logs the highest number of points. The library will also present one, all-ages grand prize this year, a one-year family pass to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.
Castle said in addition, the library will offer many programs throughout the summer. For children in fifth grade and younger, Mystery Maker Bags containing crafts and science experiments will be available every Tuesday and Friday. A special program will take place off-site at 10 a.m. each Wednesday. Storytime kits will be available for pick up on Thursdays, though advanced registration is required through the library’s online calendar, by visiting www.wabash.evanced.com/kids. Teen craft kits will be offered each Thursday and adults will have kits on Tuesday, June 22 and Tuesday, July 13. Registration is available for these kits but is not required. Tutorial videos will be available on the library’s Facebook page for these kits, as well. Youth services will be offering two book kits in June, including Dogman on Friday, June 11 and A Wolf Called Wander on Friday, June 25. Registration for these kits is required through the Children’s Room or the library’s online calendar.
“Last year, we began using an app-based program for logging summer reading points and take-home kits for all ages. This year, we are excited to incorporate those elements alongside more in-person programming, as guidelines allow,” said Castle. “While space is still limited inside the library building, we will utilize the Storywalk for outdoor meetings quite a bit.”
Castle said the WCPL Storywalk – located on Huntington Street at Paradise Springs Park – provides an outdoor space where several of the Wednesday morning programs will take place, along with the introduction of Adult Storytime from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, June 29. No registration is required and participants are encouraged to bring their lunch to the pavilion. A book discussion will also take place for adults at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 28. Registration and further details are available at the library’s online calendar.
“Though our building was operating with limited hours last summer, we saw an impressive number of participants in summer reading. We believe this year will be even better and encourage everyone to sign up and give it a try,” said youth services librarian Polly Howell.
Castle said the library offers physical and digital collections for summer reading, though a library card is not required to take part in the program.
NMPL adult department manager and marketing coordinator Jeanna Hann said their theme for this year’s summer reading program was “I Heart North Manchester.”
“Each year NMPL welcomes readers from North Manchester and the surrounding rural communities,” said Hann. “Incentives, grand prize packs and numerous programs will encourage reading throughout the summer months. Readers of all ages can participate online through the library’s free summer reading app, Beanstack, or in person, by stopping by the library to sign up and pick up a paper tracker.”
Hann said the theme is “especially meaningful in light of all the community support NMPL received in 2020.”
“The spirit of giving back propels this year’s program,” said Hann. “Many of the prizes have been purchased from North Manchester businesses. Numerous programs have been designed to highlight companies around town and to encourage summer readers to support local businesses.”
Hann said in addition to daily programs, the library will be hosting the following special summer events.
“We invite all community members to participate,” said Hann. “No library card necessary.”
Hann said the NMPL summer reading program relies solely on sponsorships and donations.
“The library extends its thanks to the community for the support received over the years and looks forward to another exciting summer of cultivating a love for books and reading in our community,” said Hann.
Upcoming events include:
Little Book Shop on Market Street: From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 5; Friday, July 30; and Saturday, July 31. “Browse a wide selection of gently used books under the sun-dappled tables along our front walk. We have titles for children, teen and adult readers available for $1 apiece,” said Hann.
Activities on the KenapocoMocha lawn: From 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 9. “Join us on the K-Mo lawn to make java dough and to decorate your very own to-go cup,” said Hann.
Outdoor Family Bingo: 6 p.m. Friday, June 11. “Bring the entire family and a picnic supper out to the NMPL lawn for bingo night,” said Hann.
Roz Puppets on the NMPL lawn: 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 16. “Join the Roz Puppets for a whimsical retelling of a classic tale set in the times of dragons and enchanted creatures. Bring your lunch to the NMPL lawn at noon and enjoy a picnic before the show,” said Hann. “Drinks and snack cakes are on us.”
Chillz Event: From 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 30. “Head to the Chillz lawn at 1 p.m. for tie-dyeing and ice cream,” said Hann. “All ‘Mr. Chillz’ ice cream scoops will be free during this program. NMPL will provide limited items to tie-dye but you are welcome to bring your items as well.”
NMPL Pool Party: From noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 7. “Our most popular summer event is back. Cool off at all sorts of fun water stations on the library lawn,” said Hann.
Activities at the North Manchester Farmer’s Market: From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 17: “Participate in a crazy fun scavenger hunt to win NMPL Bucks and Farmers’ Market Tokens,” said Hann.
Slime Spectacular on the NMPL lawn: From 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 21. “Elephant toothpaste, slimy crafts and gooey fun” will be included, said Hann.
For more information, visit www.nman.lib.in.us.