Kids are signing up in record numbers for the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library’s summer reading club.
As of mid-July, over 520 children were already registered in the program, a number the library expects could continue growing over the next few weeks.
“We're not even finished the summer yet,” said library director Michele Fedyk.
Last year’s registration number totalled 338 for the entire summer. Fedyk attributed this year’s improvement in part to the library’s outreach work.
“We've really made an effort to get out in the community and spread the word about what we're doing here in the library and what we have to offer," she said, citing the library card campaign and free children’s activities as examples of popular programming.
The TD Summer Reading Club, a nationwide initiative meant to help children develop a lifelong love of reading, gives kids the freedom to choose what and how much they want to read, from non-fiction to novels to picture books to comics.
"Whatever gets them reading, I think is wonderful,” Fedyk said, pointing out that reading even a small number of books over the summer can help kids keep their skills strong for the return to school in the fall.
Kids take part in the program by tracking their reading in official club notebooks, collecting weekly stickers and other incentives along the way. Stickers can be redeemed for rewards from the library’s “treasure trove” of prizes, Fedyk said. The program also offers a summer-end grand prize of a free family bowling night.
The library's summer reading program for teens is sponsored by Panago Pizza. Teenagers who track their reading can stop by the library to redeem prizes as well.
The library isn’t leaving adults out of all the bookish fun. Grownups are also invited to keep reading logs, win prizes and take their chances at the library’s wheel of literary genres.
"And so they'll spin the wheel. They land on romance. They can read books on romance and then they can collect prizes as well," Fedyk explained.
Fort Saskatchewan resident and avid library user Nicole Manzulenko has signed on for the summer reading program with her children, 8-year-old Max and and 3-year-old Sophie. Max is a fan of non-fiction books about robots and Sophie enjoys hearing stories of princesses and turning the pages of “anything bright.”
“My kids love to read. My youngest loves to be read to. And there's lots of great free prizes,” Manzulenko said. “The kids just like it. They get to pick a prize every week. They get a sticker. It's fun.”