Summer reading programs begin at Harper Woods library

By: Alex Tekip | Advertiser Times | Published June 15, 2016

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HARPER WOODS — Summer’s for soaking up the sun, and possibly, a good book.

The Harper Woods Public Library’s summer reading program encourages children, teens and adults to dive into a book, or a few books, from June 6 until July 15.

Adult Services Librarian Suzanne Kent said the Harper Woods library’s summer reading programs are consistent with summer reading programs nationwide in their themes. Harper Woods’ summer reading program follows the guidelines of the Collaborative Summer Reading Program, which comprises of a consortium of states. This year’s themes focus on sports: For children, the theme is “Ready, Set Read”; for teens, it’s “Get in the Game: Read”; and for adults, it’s “Exercise Your Mind: Read!”

The children’s summer reading program targets kids ages 2-11; the teen program includes those 12-18; and the adult program includes those 18 and older. There is no set book list for participants in the summer reading programs. Readers are encouraged to read books of their choosing. 

All programs award prizes to readers. Children in the summer reading program will earn a free book for every two hours of reading.

“They time themselves,” said Youth Services Librarian Cindy Coote. “They get two hours, and then they get the first prize. Two more hours, they get another prize. That’s what drives them; that’s what brings them in.”

The teen reading program is similar to the children’s program, except participants must read for four hours to earn a prize. The first prize is a bag containing books and other goodies, a Funko Pop action figure of the participant’s choosing, and an entry into the grand-prize drawing.  For every additional four hours, participants earn an additional entry into the grand-prize drawing. 

Teen Librarian Matt Kessler said about half of the readers who initially signed up for the teen program last year completed it, which is normal. 

“I think it’s pretty good for teens,” he said. “They’re usually hard to get in here, so anyone that comes in and finishes it, it’s a good thing.”

Kessler said that in addition to reading, he has sports-themed activities planned, including a WWE video game tournament July 13 that will include a presenter and a replica championship belt for the winner, and a Quidditch game June 22. 

“I sort of tried to at least keep something within the theme of being active and sporty. Hopefully they’ll respond to it. The WWE was popular last year.”

Adults will receive a bookbag and bookmark for signing up for the summer reading program. As adult participants read books, they will fill out forms rating and reviewing each book they read. The forms will be placed in a box at the library’s reference desk. Kent will draw a winner from the box each week. This year’s prizes for adults include notebooks, calendars, a fitness journal, a shaker bottle, sticky notes, a phone wallet, and hot and cold packs.

“Nobody goes away without some little prize or memento or remembrance from the summer reading program,” said Kent. “The seniors are just so happy to get prizes. I mean, they’re as excited as the kids — sometimes even more so.”

Harper Woods resident Victor Young is a yearly participant in the library’s adult summer reading program. He said he enjoys winning the prizes.

“I like the competition,” he said.

Young said he’s drawn to the summer reading program because it allows him to de-stress after a day on the job driving buses for the Detroit Department of Transportation.

“I like the camaraderie,” he said. “You’re with people that like to read just like you do. It’s just a nice place — a stress-free place if you’ve got a stressed-out lifestyle.”

Each summer reading program ends with a social gathering. The children’s summer reading program will host an ice cream social at 6 p.m. July 20. Participants who read at least four hours, along with their families, will be invited to make their own ice cream sundaes. Teen readers also will be invited to the ice cream social, where the grand-prize winner will be drawn. A balloon twister is scheduled to be at the event. Coote said about 200 people usually attend.

“It’s a lot of ice cream and a lot of balloon twisting,” she said. “It’s amazing what they’ll do for a scoop of ice cream. They come and there’s a lot of people here the whole night.”

A soiree, as Kent calls it, at the library on July 19 will mark the end of the adult summer reading program. Participants who have read at least three books will be invited to attend. Kent said participants like to talk about their favorite books they’ve read during the catered dinner, because the summer reading program does not meet regularly like a book club.

Free raffle prizes will be given away at the soiree. Kent said these prizes are usually lotions from Bath & Body Works, among other items. The grand prize is a $25 Target gift card.

“I like to give everyone a little something to make sure that person goes away happy, and also to promote reading among all ages,” said Kent.         

Children, adults and teens who are interested in joining the library’s summer reading programs are encouraged to do so early, but will be welcomed at any time.

More information on the Harper Woods library’s summer reading programs can be found by visiting the library’s website, www.harperwoodslibrary.org, or by calling the library at (313) 343-2575.