By LINDSAY CAREY
In some years, it has been difficult to get children and in particular teens to sign up for summer reading at the Plainville Public Library.
However, this year the library was able to get over 500 participants in the summer reading program.
Children’s Librarian Kimberly White said that an online program, youth volunteers, and hosting frequent events at the library are responsible for the increase in participation this year.
“Fizz, Boom, Read,” a program for pre-readers and readers up to grade five, had 426 participants.
The program for readers grades 6-12, “Spark a Reaction,” had 110 participants this summer. This is a large increase from last year, when there were 75 readers in the program and the year before only had 25.
“We’ve seen great gains since adding the online component,” said White. “Last year, we experimented with it a little for the older group, but it’s new this year for the younger kids.”
The Connecticut State Library offers a free summer reading program called Summer Reader through Evanced Solutions. According to White, the program is available for libraries statewide to manage their summer reading programs online.
Patrons can register for summer reading online, read and record their progress, among many other things.
White said the program is “highly customizable for towns,” which allowed the Plainville Summer Reading program to cater to both age groups online. She also said the online component offered more flexibility to help families participate.
Youth volunteers between grades 7 to 12 were another asset to the library this summer. The library had 26 volunteers helping with crafts, decorating, running programs and events, and assisting other kids with their summer reading.
“For an eight-week period, we had an event everyday,” said the Plainville children’s librarian. “Parents could drop by to do something fun with their kid that they didn’t have to register for it.”
The Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk came and set up an exhibit at the library that attracted a lot of families. It was called “Mini Healthyville”, which educated children on healthy food choices, exercising, and personal hygiene.
Every Monday morning, there was “E story time.” The Plainville Family Resource Center allowed the library to use their Kindles and IPads for reading through apps. The first 15 families to arrived were able to use their own kindle.
There was a “Lego Club” on Wednesday mornings and a “Silly Science Program” on Fridays among many other programs, which were run primarily by youth volunteers.
Prizes for summer reading were another incentive for participation.
The summer reading program received support AMC Theaters, Applebee’s, Bagels Plus of Plainville, Barnes and Noble, Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Bristol Spare Tire, Cheesecake Factory, Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donuts (Plainville locations), First and Last Tavern (Plainville), Friendly’s (Plainville), J. Timothy’s Taverne, Lake Compounce, Laurel Lanes, McDonald’s (Plainville), Moe’s (Southington), Mount Southington, Papa Gino’s, Pottery Piazza, Renaissance Cyclery, Stepping Stones Musuem of Norwalk, Walmart, West Main Pizza, and the Wheeler YMCA.
The Plainville Public Library received signed memorabilia from the Red Sox and the Bruins. The Plainville Dunkin Donuts gave coupons for free donuts, and McDonalds gave coupons for free ice cream cones. The Wheeler YMCA offered a free birthday party as a prize for summer reading and the AMC movie theater donated free movie tickets.
On Thursday, Aug. 21, there will be a “Science Tellers” program for the summer reading finale at the library, 56 East Main St., at 6:30 p.m. The program will show children how to tell stories using science experiments.
The grand prize raffles will be drawn and 12 prize packages will be given out, which were donated from local businesses.
At the end of the event, the Friends of the Plainville Library will be handing out ice cream.