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Warm weather and words can mix: PWPL starting summer reading program

A stack of books is pictured. The Peter White Public Library is getting ready to start its summer reading program. (Pexels photo)

MARQUETTE — Summer is supposed to be carefree for kids and teens, right? So why would they want to spend time reading when they can be outside playing in the woods, the beach or even the front yard?

Because a book can take them to those places too – and, depending on what they read, the Great Wall of China, the Amazon rainforest, or even a make-believe place such as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

With the distance learning that’s been so prevalent since traditional education in schools was thrown into upheaval during the COVID-19 pandemic, summer reading can be helped along virtually.

The Peter White Public Library is ready to start its summer reading program, which it has provided for many years by combining programming and reading with the belief that it can “stop the summer slide” and help yo

uth maintain important reading skills for the next school year.

However, that doesn’t mean kids have to stick to textbooks during their “off season.”

“Summer reading is always ‘read for fun,'” said Sarah Rehborg, PWPL Youth Services librarian and Prime Time Family Reading Time coordinator. “It’s not forced reading. It is ‘Kids: Choose what you want to read. Don’t worry about reading level. Just read.”

And it doesn’t have to be a book.

“Read magazines,” Rehborg said. “Read graphic novels. Listen to audiobooks. Have your parent read to you every night a bedtime story.”

PWPL’s “Imagine Your Story: Kids Read! & Teens Read!” is for youths up to age 18, and is free of charge.

Registration opens on June 6 at www.pwpl.info under “Youth Services.” Participants will be able to print off reading logs during registration. Curbside pickup of summer reading bags, which will include copies of reading logs for individuals without printers, will be announced at a later date.

The program kickoff will include a virtual magic show with Cameron Zvara, with two live shows at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. June 6. Registration now is open for the show, with limited spots available. Visit www.pwpl.info and click on Youth Services to register.

Of course, things will be handled differently this year.

“Obviously, in the past when we had our book fairs, we would have three of them,” Rehborg said. “Well, we won’t be able to do that.”

Her plan is to hold an end-of-summer book fair for the “Our Kids Read!” program for youths up to age 14, with 13- and 14-year-olds having the option of choosing this program or the “Our Teens Read!” program.

“If they’ve done their reading, then they’ll get to choose three books at that book fair,” she said.

Another change this year is that instead of having kids read 20 minutes a day for 10 days for each book fair, youngsters will set their own goals.

“They get to decide how much they think they should read to earn a book,” Rehborg said.

For kids age 5 and under, coloring will be the focus, she said.

The “Our Teens Read!” program is for kids ages 13 to 18. Teens will receive bingo cards that contain a mixture of reading and Teen Tuesdays activities to earn up to two $10 gift cards for local stores.

Other programs that will take place online this summer include Tuesday and Thursday storytimes live on Facebook, garden programs, fairy tale to-go kits, Muggles for Potter Zoom meetings, Teen Tuesdays to go and others.

Rehborg strongly urges individuals to sign up for the “Peter White Public Library Youth Services Insider!” on the Youth Services section of the PWPL website.

Keeping up to date on programs, hours changes and other information is the main goal of this newsletter.

“Things are going to be changing,” Rehborg said. “I don’t actually know for sure when the book fair’s going to be because we have to know if people are allowed in the building by then.”

Remember, it’s still a COVID-19 “stay-at-home” world.

This is why a virtual format is so important.

However, a wealth of online resources are available to PWPL patrons, and they’ve always been there, Rehborg noted.

“Since we closed the brick-and-mortar, they’ve been really important,” she said.

Once of those is the Michigan eLibrary at mel.org. The website includes Storyline Online, in which famous actors read popular children’s picture books, and Starfall, where kids can click on any word and have it read to them.

Resources like these can have a special importance during the current situation.

“I think this summer might be more important than any other summer to at least not let their reading skills slip, to keep reading,” Rehborg said.

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