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Summer reading program aims to keep minds active for children, adults

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published June 17, 2015

 Parents and children enjoy the music of Jim Gill at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library June 13.

Parents and children enjoy the music of Jim Gill at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library June 13.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — School might be out for the summer, but library officials want both children and adults to know that reading is a yearlong, lifelong endeavor.

That rings especially true during the dog days of summer.

The Clinton-Macomb Public Library is an active proponent of keeping minds fresh in multiple ways, so for another year, the library is offering its Summer Reading Club to people of all ages.

The goal is for participants to read at least six books during the summer in an effort to keep the mind spry and the learning curve high. This is especially aimed toward students as a way to combat the “summer slide.”

Jamie Morris, community relations specialist for the library, said bulk data compiled by the American Psychology Review in 2007 shows that the summer accounts for two-thirds of learning loss. Recent studies have shown that Michigan is among the lowest in the nation when it comes to reading comprehension for students in third and fourth grade, too.

“Studies have found that students who read during the summer, you only have to read six books in the summer to maintain a reading level,” Morris said. “Our big push is to not only keep kids in the libraries in the summer, but to keep them reading. That’s why our program allows children to read whatever they want.”

Lisa Mulvenna, head of youth and young adult services, said having fun and reading desired materials go hand in hand. Thus, the library lets each individual read anything they choose.

There are three different group levels for each age range.

For children up to age 5, parents can read for them and track progress. Children who read for five hours will get a prize, while children who read for 10 hours will get a chance to spin a prize wheel.

Children who complete the program, which ends Aug. 22, will have the chance to win the grand prize of a family four-pack of tickets to the Detroit Zoo or the super grand prize of a family overnight stay at Zehnder’s Splash Village in Frankenmuth. 

The program for ages 6-12 offers incentives, such as bags of candy, for reading a certain amount of hours. Also, those who read for 20 hours throughout the summer will be invited to an after-hours party at the end of the summer that includes food, games and giant inflatables.

Only those who complete the program get invited to the exclusive event.

Adults only have to read one book to be entered into a prize drawing for different prize baskets, and as more books are read, there are more opportunities to win gift cards, wine or filled shopping baskets.

All prizes are offered through the Friends of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

The library helps with logging the number of hours that people of all ages are reading, and it’s all based on an honor system.

Library Director Larry Neal said summer reading doesn’t have to be tedious or be viewed as a task; rather, it’s an opportunity to promote continued learning while engaging in a multitude of summer tasks.

“It’s an opportunity to develop a lifelong love of reading, which leads to success in life,” Neal said. “Kids come in and we listen to what their interests are and we help them explore.”

Neal said the program has been part of the library’s identity at least since he arrived in 1999. He said participation has escalated in a positive way over the years, generally through community communication — notably with surrounding schools.

He called it a seamless integration that has allowed kids in the community to engage in multiple programs even beyond reading.

Aside from bringing the library’s programs to more people over the years — which includes a 47 percent increase in programming since 2014 — Neal stresses that the library is not trying to compete with summer-based recreation programs. He wants reading to become a habit that complements other activities in people’s lives.

The elementary age has stayed pretty consistent, he said, while the young adult, or teen, segment of the community has grown quite a bit. More internal research has helped lend a hand to what is popular for older age groups, with the library even creating a teen librarian position to further that process.

“We do have a tremendous opportunity to reach more students and we are full-force ahead,” Neal said. “Whether they’re coming to the library to read or whatever, I want them reading.

“That’s my goal. Whether they get books put in their hands or they buy them, it’s a great message to keep reading.”

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