No headcount was taken at Greene County Library’s summer reading kickoff party on Monday, but one thing was certain: The library gave out more than 400 snow cones. It also registered 15 to 20 new library cards, one of the largest spikes in registration numbers this year.
The annual Summer Reading Challenge is back at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, and it’s in full swing. With kickoff parties and carnivals already on the books for half of the library’s branches and more coming in the next few days, summer programming features events and challenges to encourage children and adults alike to read.
“It’s something that folks really look forward to," Jennifer MacAdam-Miller, library spokeswoman, told The Daily Progress. As of Thursday, more than 1,600 people have signed up, including 822 children, 538 adults and 259 teens.
Central Library will host its kickoff events this weekend, with an after-hours party for teens Friday evening and a general kickoff Saturday morning. Crozet, Gordon and Scottsville branches plan to hold their kickoff events Monday and Tuesday.
Each branch has its own selection of programs, including storytimes, book groups and craft workshops. Across library branches, a summer performance series will feature dance, magic and music, among other offerings.
But the main event of the summer is the reading challenge. Using the Beanstack app or a monthly challenge sheet, readers of all ages can track their reading time and complete challenges to earn a free book each month this summer, as well as an entry into the grand prize drawings for each branch, which include gift cards to local businesses and bookstores. The challenges are low stakes and fun: read a graphic novel in June, listen to an audiobook in July, donate a used book in August.
“Get points for reading five hours, ten minutes, it’s worth something,” MacAdam-Miller said. “It’s really just to reward people for reading, and make it fun.”
Summer programming also helps prevent the “summer slide” in children’s literacy, something Kavita Kumar saw firsthand while teaching fourth grade at Greenbrier Elementary School.
Now a full-time mother, Kumar brought her daughter to Northside Library’s summer reading kickoff carnival Tuesday, which offered children and parents face painting, popcorn, games and, of course, books. To generate interest in the program, the branch’s librarians filmed a “reading update” advertising this summer’s reading challenge and activities, which played on the morning announcements at Northside’s partner schools.
But all ages can sign up to take advantage of the programming the library offers. “It’s out of fairness, adults should have fun too,” MacAdam-Miller said. “It’s to celebrate reading, really.”