Library programs seek to entice young readers
‘TeenRead,’ ‘Fizz, Boom, Read’ gain in popularity
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By Natalie Gray  June 20, 2014 12:00 am

Summer may be here and, for many, that spells the end of school, but that doesn’t mean that summer needs to be a time to put away the books. Instead, the Rohnert Park-Cotati Library likes to think of it as a perfect time to reach for another book. And, after that, another.

Parents and book-lovers rejoice – the library has officially begun its annual summer reading programs, this year with the themes of “Fizz Boom Read!” and “TeenRead.” The programs are designed with young readers in mind, to engage their creativity and imaginations and promote an interest in reading.

“It’s not a test and it’s not a contest,” said Lauri Cameron, an employee of the library’s in the Children’s section. “It’s not arranged by reading level. It’s just to encourage continual reading this summer.”

So long as a child picks up at least one book and tries to read it, that child can be an official participant of the reading program and can collect prizes and be a part of a fun, interactive group that helps them stretch their love of reading.  All children under the age of 12 may join the program and can sign up at any time before the Aug. 1 end date.

The playing rules are simple: come to the library, pick out a book and read that book. Their program does not subject children to reading tests or demands of reading within a specific, arranged level; all children are welcome, whether they are reading chapter series or Mom and Dad are helping them with the words. Just make sure your child returns each week to the library to catalogue their progress and pick up a consolation – that is, motivational – prize.

“It can be fun for the whole family,” said Cameron. She added that, though the library does not require readers to stay within the bracket of a level or age group, they are happy to make recommendations to children and parents looking for a new book.

According to Cameron, the prizes are always a surprise to the readers and differ each week. The prizes vary from bookmarks and pencils to vouchers to local restaurants and shops. 

The prizes are not awarded in categories for reading achievements. Instead, they are handed out equally to every participant, as a symbol of the rewards of reading.

But, of course, younger children are not the only ones who get the summer away from school and might be looking for a reading outlet and teens need not worry. Their older age may not allow them to participate in the official Reading Program, but they can be a part of the TeenRead, a program meant to mirror the efforts of the reading program. 

TeenRead has the basic goal of the Children’s Reading Program: reward teens for their literary efforts. Teens can earn stamps for various reading and library-related activities, such as reading a book, listening to an audio book, attending a teen program at the library or simply by signing up for the program. They can earn more stamps depending on their activity and can earn up to four stamps for creating a soundtrack to a favorite book or an artistic representation for a book, like a ‘book trailer’ or drawing.

Why participate in activities and earn stamps? Besides the joy of reading, creating and the opportunity to fill your long summer days – there are the prizes of course. Teens are eligible for a free book, bag prize, a gift card and can even enter a raffle for a free Kindle.

Teens are also finding the opportunity to engage with their local library by volunteering to help run the events of the Children Reading Program. According to Cameron, there are 15 teen volunteers currently helping the library with more on the waiting list. 

And the library might want all the help it can get with the 507 children and 44 teens currently signed up for the summer reading programs.

So, if you’re looking for a way to exercise your or your child’s mind this summer, activities to entertain the free days or maybe even an escape from the heat, head over to the Rohnert Park-Cotati Library and mosey on over to the Children’s Section. 

There is always someone there to help and sign up new readers, offer advice for books to choose and daily activities and entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. 

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