Reading program is important

Published 9:05 pm Monday, June 25, 2012

The idea of a summer reading program at the library always brings back fond memories for me.

As a child, I never participated in the summer reading program, mostly because I’ve never needed any sort of incentive to read. Ever since I learned how, I’ve been a voracious reader. As a young child, I would attempt to stay up all night reading Hardy Boys books and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” novels at all costs — even reading by the moonlight when my parents made me turn the lights out. I didn’t believe them when they told me doing so would ruin my eyes — until I needed glasses at the age of 8.

It was not until I was 13 years old that I got involved in the summer reading program at our local library, as a volunteer. I helped the children sign up for the program, check in their reading logs and choose prizes for reading certain numbers of books.

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I volunteered in the program for three years, until I got old enough to hold a paying job. Even though I was accustomed to the library, I learned many more things as a result of volunteering. I discovered new authors and new genres of children’s literature, learned that the library carried more than just printed books (in those days, audio books were on cassette tapes and movies were on VHS tapes) and even had my first crush — on a fellow volunteer. I learned that shelving books, which we volunteers were asked to do when the line of children dwindled, is back-breaking work when all the shelves are kid-sized and you’re already approaching 6 feet tall. And most surprisingly (to me, at least), I learned that some kids don’t like to read.

It might be those children for whom the summer reading program is most important. A child who likes to read anyway won’t get much more than a few small toys and a sense of accomplishment. But a child for whom reading is a chore may learn to find enjoyment in it, become a more proficient reader and gain a new interest. And they’ll even be helping themselves avoid the dreaded “summer brain drain.”

As an adult, you can help support the kids’ summer reading program by signing them up and taking them to the library. But even if you don’t have kids, make sure you check out the Friends of the Suffolk Library book sale monthly. Proceeds benefit programs of the Suffolk Public Library system, including the summer reading program. Its next sale will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6-7 at 300 Carolina Road.