Saturday, May 29, 2010
There's just something about a library. I don't know if it's the quiet, the smell of old books or the crackle of a plastic book jacket, but libraries, they're magical.
I thank programs like the Children's Summer Reading Program for making me into a loyal library patron. I even worked in a library once. Now, I'm the mayor of the Herman and Kate Kaiser Library branch of the Tulsa City-County Library on Foursquare.
And that's some big-time stuff.
My two-year-old loves the library, too.
In fact, it causes him to do some very strange things.
Banshee-esque, monkey-like things.
Which, mostly, is okay. We like to go to the HKK Library (how do you think I became the mayor of the place on Foursquare?!), and it's pretty kid-friendly. We've only been shushed once there, and that was by some self-righteous teenager, and we all know how stupidly ironic that is. So, whatever.
Now that it's summer we've jumped head first into the Children's Summer Reading Program at the Tulsa City-County Library. Not only does it reinforce our daily reading habit, but it also rewards kids for reading when it's not required, as it often is during the school year.
Thanks to this program, a love of books and of reading has a real chance to grow in kids whose parents can't afford to hit Barnes every time a new "it" book hits the shelves. It's about discovering the fun in reading, whether that's in a book about math or a mystery novel.
So, here's how the Children's Summer Reading Program works. Between now and July 31:
4 visits to the library
+8 books read or read to the child
=1 medal and 1 book of coupons
To kids, that medal is a big, huge deal. I remember the first one I ever earned - I think I was in the second grade or so. I was so proud of that thing. I even wore it to summer camp that year.
And look how I turned out! Wait - no. Maybe you shouldn't look.
The medal is a big deal to caregivers, too. I may or may not have cried when my son earned his first summer reading medal last summer. I keep it in the same box in which I store his hospital bracelets from when he was born, his first fingerpainting and his first progress report from his preschool. In other words, it's sacred.
Coupon sponsors this year include Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma Aquarium, Mazzio's, Tulsa Drillers, Tulsa 66ers, Tulsa Shock and Tulsa Transit and range from a free meal to free passes, so that coupon book is quite a prize, too, for sure.
And medal earners who have completed any grade between kindergarten and fifth can enter a drawing for even more prizes.
Plus, any kid who reads 12 additional books earns an inflatable toy. I hear that this year, it's a whale - it's all about keeping with the "Make a Splash" theme of the campaign this year.
It's easy to sign up, too. Simply head to your nearest Tulsa City-County Library branch, help your child pick out a book or two and then tell a librarian you'd like to sign up for the summer reading program. You'll be in business, pronto.
Reluctant to get started with summer reading because you and your kid have racked up tons of overdue fines at the library? Don't worry - Tulsa City-County Library has its own amnesty day. Bring in any overdue children's or young adult books and the library will forgive the fines.
Here are the books that will get us started on the Children's Summer Reading Program this year:
I like to let my son pick out his own books, and more often than not, this kid shows great taste.
Like I mentioned before, the library makes my son go a little nuts. It's like the excitement builds and builds, and stimuli flies at him from all directions until...
Sensory overload hits.
This time there was the throwing of books and yelling at babies. So, to time-out he went.
My little cheese ball.
The Children's Summer Reading Program isn't the only exciting thing going on for kids at the library this summer. Check it out:
The Tween and Teen Summer Reading Program
Storytime in the Park
Library Summer Reading Night
Summer Events at Connor's Cove at Hardesty Regional Library
And lots, lots, lots more
Hey, parents? Do your kids a favor. Don't over-commit them this summer to an endless stream of camps and programs. Not that there's anything wrong with those, because there's absolutely not - in fact, there are quite a few in which I'll be interested once my son is old enough. But, a kid needs some down time. And you know what? So do you. It's so important to take the time not only to read with your kids, but to talk about what you read together. It's also fun to use your imaginations to come up with alternate endings. We've even made crafts inspired by our favorite books (thanks, Joe Momma's Saturday Morning Book Club, for the idea!), and we've collaborated on book-inspired living room puppet shows, too.
Think of it as an excuse to be a kid and to act silly again. Because sharing a reading life with your kids is an easy opportunity to create memories with your family that will last a life time.
See y'all at the library!