Irwin Henderson

Irwin Henderson

Libraries inspiring kids to pick up a book this summer

More than 3,000 children 12 and under have already signed up for the annual reading initiative, which the GVPL has run since the 1970s.

The Greater Victoria Public Library is encouraging kids to keep their reading skills up with their Summer Reading Club.

More than 3,000 children 12 and under have already signed up for the annual reading initiative, which the GVPL has run since the 1970s.

“Lots of kids have participated over several decades, and the numbers have really grown the last few years,” said Tracy Kendrick, children’s and teen services co-ordinator with the GVPL, noting more than 7,100 children joined the club last year. “It’s a very popular club, and it’s really exciting to see that.”

The Summer Reading Club is a free, self-paced program that aims to improve reading proficiency between the end and beginning of the school year and keep kids from falling behind in their learning and development. Children pick up a reading record from their local library and track their reading every day, with the GVPL encouraging them to read at least 15 to 20 minutes daily.

“They can read at home or in a summer cabin or when they’re camping or when they’re visiting their grandparents or at the beach,” said Kendrick. “Then they can bring in their reading record once they’ve read for at least a week and they can start collecting their prizes.”

“It’s really motivating to children. They really love the stickers and the weekly prizes,” added Kendrick, noting there are stickers and prizes for each of the seven weeks of the program.

According to a 2010 article from the School Library Journal, children who participated in a summer reading program are 52 Lexile points ahead of their peers who did not. Lexile points measure the readability of books and are used to match readers with books at their appropriate reading level.

“It’s really exciting. They’re going to school and they’re actually reading at a higher reading level than when they finished the previous grade,” said Kendrick. “We see lots of kids who are entering Kindergarten or Grade 1, and they actually learn how to read during the club. It’s really amazing.”

This year, the GVPL received a $10,000 donation from the Friends of the Library volunteer group for the Summer Reading Club. The funds will go toward purchasing weekly reading incentives and augmenting summer programs such as storytimes, puppet shows, themed programs, and science and health activities.

“We really couldn’t function without them,” said Kendrick of the volunteer group.

Registration for the Summer Reading Club is currently open at all 11 GVPL branches. In addition, the GVPL runs more than 140 different registered and drop-in programs over the summer, including a book review club for teens called All That and a Bag of Chips and the adult-focused Summer Reading Challenge.

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com