Library offers summer-reading fun for children

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Experts say that children who don't read during the summer lose weeks of the learning they gained during the school year, a phenomenon known as the "summer slide."

And they don't get to experience the worlds and people that books provide, said Currie Meyer, youth librarian at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

With that in mind, Meyer and Alison Lambart, youth services manager at the library, organize summer reading programs every year. The programs target children ages 5 to 10 and teenagers.

The goal of the programs, Meyer said, is "to inspire children and teens to read for fun."

And fun, Lambart said, is the key word.

"Yes, we want kids to come and read, but it's summertime, and it's all about fun," she said.

In other words, there are great prizes and no required reading lists.

Attendance numbers suggest the programs really are fun, as an increasing number of children participate each summer.

Last summer, almost 300 children ages 5 to 10 participated in the reading program, an increase of 57 percent from the year before. Almost 700 attended weekly story-times and activities, and more than 1,230 entered weekly trivia contests.

Also last year, 106 children ages 11 and older participated in the teen-reading program, an increase of 172 percent from the year before.

Last year, school-aged children rode around the world with Buddy the sheepdog. This year, they'll "Dive Into Books" with Dewey the dolphin.

When children read or are read to for 30 minutes, they can mark off one of 48 bubbles on a sheet from the library. A prize is available at every three-hour mark, and those who read a total of 24 hours get the grand prize of picking out a new book.

The library also offers a "Story and Hands-On Fun" program for school-aged children on Thursdays. The program, which includes stories, games and crafts, follows the water theme, covering topics such as whales, pirates and mermaids.

The program for teens is called "Warped: Beyond Time and Place." But that's just a good name, Lambart said, and does not mean that teens have to read certain styles of books. In fact, teens can read whatever they want -- a book, magazine or newspaper.

To participate, teens track the number of pages they've read. When they read 1,000 pages, they receive a $10 gift certificate to one of several local businesses, and they are entered for a grand-prize drawing of one $50 and two $25 gift certificates.

All of the prizes for the different programs are donated by local businesses, for which the library is grateful, Lambart and Meyer said.

Besides going to the library to check out another book or collect their prizes, children and teens can answer daily trivia questions. Those who answer correctly get a chance to win other prizes, such as milkshakes, rodeo tickets, water-slide passes and mini-golf passes.

A new program called "Penny Pages" will be offered this year to keep children motivated to read after they finish the programs with prizes.

For every page a student reads, a penny will be donated to charity. The Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs is sponsoring the program. The charity that ultimately will receive the donations has yet to be determined.

In addition to those programs, the library has evenings of family entertainment scheduled and also organizes a reading program through which beginning readers are paired with trained volunteers ages 11 to 18 to read together. All activities are free.

For children or teens who aren't big readers, there's one argument for not reading that Lambart won't accept.

"I won't take, 'Aw, there's nothing out there I like to read,'" Lambart said. "I'll find something for you. Sometimes, I think that's all it takes, is one good book."

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