Summer reading — not just for kids anymore

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 19:00

Anchorage Public Library’s five neighborhood libraries are ready for the annual Summer Reading Celebration. The Celebration kicks off with the 13th annual Reading Rendezvous on Saturday, May 18, from noon to 4 p.m., on the Loussac Library lawn. This free, fun fair for all ages features a variety of community booths, each with a different task or craft. You can sign up for the summer reading programs for kids, teens or adults; get an early start on building up your minutes to win prizes, and raise money for BARK-9, a program that trains search and rescue dogs, this year’s Readers to the Rescue recipient.

There’s a lot more time and energy involved in preparing for this annual reading project than you would think. Staff has been scrambling for months to get each piece of the multi-dimensional project in place. We do an excellent job instilling a party atmosphere around the two-month program. Bottom line though – summer reading is vital to the health of our community. Our commitment to keeping students reading while school is out, increases their chances of success in school and in life, according to data accumulated in study after study. For those kids who don’t read? Each summer they don’t practice reading, they fall further and further behind until it becomes almost impossible to catch up. Another interesting tidbit, reading comic books and graphic novels also help kids get reading practice.

The school-age reading program works like this: Kids accumulate reading minutes by reading to themselves, to others, being read to, or listening to audio books. After they fill a reading tracking sheet, they bring it to their neighborhood library, get credit for minutes and receive a prize.

The planning starts with the summer program’s national theme, which this year is “Dig into Reading.” We brainstorm ways to showcase, enhance and have fun with the theme. For example, a play with verbs: dig, explore and unearth some great books this summer.

The youth services staff puts in a tremendous amount of work for school-age kids. They decide which items will go in the reading kits that children get when they sign up for the program. It includes a sheet for tracking their reading minutes and some cool prizes. Local teenager volunteers spent hours a couple weeks ago assembling all the materials and putting them into bags.

Another aspect of the schedule for school-age kids are weekly programs in July and August. Same programs for all locations, but the days and times are different: Loussac, Tuesdays at 2 pm; Wednesdays Muldoon at 2 pm and Gerrish in Girdwood at 6:30 pm; Thursdays, Chugiak-Eagle River at 1 pm and Mountain View at 3:30 pm. Thanks to a large grant from Friends of the Library, performers, musicians and even a magician will be on stage this summer, helping the city’s kids stay engaged in reading through the summer.

The summer reading programs for teens and adults, 18 and older, are similar, but separate. Both are online programs. Go to our website: to create an account. Then, read, write a review of what you read (or listened to), submit it and after it is posted, your name is entered in the drawing for the weekly prize, as well as the grand prize, an Apple iPod mini, awarded at the end of the program.

Did you know that the higher quality of life for readers also applies to adults? Studies have found that adult readers volunteer more, are more social, attend more cultural and athletic events, exercise more and are healthier. So not only is your reading regularly good for your kids – reading parents beget reading children – it’s good for you too.

You can also keep track of your reading minutes to help raise money for Readers to the Rescue. Swing by the adult or teen both at Reading Rendezvous to get how-to info on submitting reviews, as well as, library reading resources like book club bags, eReaders resources and One Click Digital. Watch the library calendar for special adult programs this summer or like us on Facebook:


Toni Massari McPherson, APL’s Community Relations Coordinator, writes a regular column about our library and all the free resources available to members with a library card, both in person or online.

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