A hot summer vacation offers plenty for a child to do, they could cool off in a pool or ride their bikes down the street to get an ice cream, but thousands of kids throughout the county have something else in mind.
On June 1, the DeKalb County Library kicked off its summer reading program titled “One World, Many Stories,” to encourage children through incentives to keep reading over the summer.
Eric Mahoney, a 10-year-old who had just finished signing up for the first time, said he was excited about the program mainly because he loves to read. When asked if he thought it was really important, Mahoney said, “No, I just think it’s fun.
“I like to read most anything. Lately I’ve read most of the Hardy Boys books, my dad is reading me Harry Potter, I’ve read all the Percy Jackson books and I mainly like mystery books and baseball books,” Mahoney said.
Each year the program has a different theme and Sharon Deeds, youth services coordinator for the DeKalb County Library, said that it is chosen by The Collaborative Summer Library Program and used all over the country.
“It’s actually a national consortium of public libraries that meet each year. So, if you go to Alabama or North Carolina you’re going to see the same theme that you would here,” Deeds said.
The program is split into three levels and the first level is for ages up to 2 years old. For the first half of the program, children fill out a reading log of the books that their parents read to them and once they reach five they receive a certificate and a bag. Then, if they continue and read 10 more they receive a free book and an invitation to a special celebration reception (preview party) for the exhibit, "Once Upon a Time” at Imagine It! The Children’s Museum. Once they receive the invitation, parents need to RSVP to Imagine It! to attend.
The next level for ages 3 to 12 has a reading log with stickers that represent 15 minutes of reading. Once they have completed the first half they get a certificate, a bag and a raffle ticket and when they complete the second half they receive an invitation to the “Once Upon a Time” preview party as well.
“I think it’s great…because they don’t have to do homework and they can develop their love of reading because they’re reading, but it’s not for school,” Mia Manekofsky, children’s director at the Decatur Library said.
Manekofsky explained that the raffle tickets were for kids to have a chance at winning money for college. The sweepstakes is held each year by the Georgia Public Library Service in partnership with the Path2College 529 Plan to help promote the summer reading program and get kids, and their parents, interested in saving for college at an early age.
The winner will receive a $5,529 prize and will be chosen at random from the participants. The library where they registered will also be awarded $1,529.
The third level is for teens, and they could have a chance to win a new Playstation 3. Deeds said that over the past three years the number of students in the program has been steadily increasing and she hoped that with the incentive of the PS3, more teens would be excited about signing up.
“We’ve had over 500 students so far,” Manekofsky said of the Decatur branch. “It started June 1, and it ends July 31, and they can sign up all the way through.”
Sarah Bergomosco, who was at the Decatur Library signing up her sons Aidan, 3, and Isaac, 5, said that she thought of summer reading as a bridge to help kids get from one grade to the next.
“It’s a really good way to give incentive and to show him to look at and see his progress [so] he can relate that to skills he might be able to use in school,” she said of her son Isaac, who will be attending kindergarten at Oakhurst Elementary in the fall.
Bergomosco said that she tries to get her children books that relate to the things they do on a day-to-day basis. For instance, this past Sunday was Father’s Day so they read books about the holiday and since it is summer they also read books about trips to the beach.
“It’s all about what you expose your kids to and if you’re bringing the kids to the library and giving them incentives to read it’s forming a good habit and it’s a good way to spend time with your kids,” she said.