Steamboat Springs It might be hard to tell who's more excited when Bud Werner Memorial Library's summer reading programs kickoff Monday -- the pint-size readers or youth librarian Currie Meyer and her assistant, Alison Lambart.
Meyer and Lambart spent the past few months preparing for the library's usual summer influx of youth readers by developing programs that are fun and rewarding -- not to mention stimulating.
"We want to dispel the notion that the library is somewhere very quiet, academic-oriented and nerdy," Meyer said. "We have a lot of fun."
Judging by past program turnout, her message is getting out.
Hundreds of children participated in last year's reading incentives programs and weekly story and activities hours.
"It's been growing every year, and we sure hope to see even more kids this year," Lambart said.
Meyer and Lambart hope a multitude of prizes and activities -- along with this year's theme of "Don't Bug Me, I'm Reading!" -- will continue to motivate parents and children to come to the library.
"We knew bugs would be fun. Kids just love bugs. How can you lose?" Meyer said. "They love the prizes, the fun things we make and do and the special events like music performances, puppet shows and story times."
The programs aren't exclusive to young children. "Fourteeners," this summer's young-adult-oriented program, seeks to encourage 11- to 15-year-olds to read 30 minutes a day. If they maintain that pace over a two-month period, they will be rewarded with a gift certificate to Off the Beaten Path Bookstore or Wal-Mart.
Age-appropriate prizes such as gondola rides and Wendy's Frosties are added bonuses for young adult readers, Meyer said.
"Don't Bug Me, I'm Reading!" is designed for children ages 5 through 10. The program includes story hour and various activities every Thursday, beginning this week and running through Aug. 7. Evening entertainment will be held Tuesday evenings from June 24 through Aug. 5. Children in the program earn prizes for every 20 minutes they read.
A special part of the program is the free bug boxes participating children will receive at this Thursday's story and activity hour. Middle school students built the bug boxes earlier this year for the program.
All summer reading programs are free. No library card is needed, and children and parents from anywhere in the world are encouraged to participate while in Steamboat Springs, Meyer said.
Summer reading program goals are twofold, Meyer said: to keep children reading throughout the summer and to attract as many visitors to the library as possible.
"It's critical that kids keep reading during the summer," Meyer said. "Studies have shown that children who read recreationally do better in school. They're better readers, writers and spellers -- they achieve more."
Another program, called "Book Pals," encourages older children and young adults to read with younger children. Book Pals is a mutually beneficial program for both groups, Meyer said. All children who participate in the Book Pals program will get a new paperback book at the end of the summer.
Meyer and Lambart said community and business support make the prizes possible. But it's Meyer's and Lambart's devotion that will keep the program going.
"We have a lot of fun," Meyer said. "It's a lot of work to prepare, but it's so worth it to see the smiles on kids faces, book pals reading together and kids getting so excited over prizes. It makes it all worth it."
Parents and children can sign-up for summer reading programs Monday at the library. Program brochures will be mailed out with all Steamboat Springs School District kindergarten through eighth-grade report cards.