Library program offers cash prizes to kids, adults who read this summer

The summer reading program is back once again at St. Charles Parish libraries for readers of all ages who want to flex their literary muscles and get a chance to win prizes.

The reading program kicked off on June 2 and will go through July 26. Organizers are anticipating they will improve upon the more than 2,500 residents who took part in the program last year.

St. Charles Parish residents can sign up for the program at any library location or through the Bookmobile. The program, including kids, teen, tween and adult groups, caters to all ages. Participants will earn awards and prizes for reaching reading benchmarks as well as for attending library sponsored events.

Lauren Pitz, public relations and adult programming librarian, said engaging in reading is important for everyone, but especially for children who will be out of school for the summer.

“For our younger residents of St. Charles, the reading program keeps them learning and using those skills though summer. There has been a lot of research done about a summer slide when kids aren’t going to school five days a week and have a reading loss and in the fall teachers have to get them back into reading mode. Through going to our program, they can lessen that,” she said. “And our adult program is a way for our parents and grandparents to model that behavior for their children and grandchildren and it is a lot of fun.”

While the summer reading program has been going on for decades, Pitz said it is not just focused on reading, but has evolved into engaging residents with the library.

“Of course books are still really important to what we do. When you think of a library, books is probably the first thing you think of, but we are expanding our focus to lifelong learning for all ages,” she said. “We’re offering a lot of things. We have events for all ages from the very young through adult and stuff related to literature, science, performing arts, cooking–if there is something you are interested in we are offering it somewhere in one of our libraries this summer.”

Pitz said the summer reading program has transformed from more than just a repository for books into a community hub.

“Over the years it has transformed from keeping track of how many books you’ve read to how much you’ve read and more about coming in and seeing performers coming from all over the country,” she said. “It’s about lifelong learning, not just books, but that is still a big part of what we do.”

In addition to enriching the lives of participants, those who take part in the summer reading program will have a chance to win prizes. Teens, tween and adults who complete the program will receive a back sack and one winner from each branch will receive a library prize pack with a $25 gift card. A grand prize winner in both older groups will receive an iPad Mini. Children who complete the program will receive a back sack and have their names entered into a grand prize drawing for a gift basket.

“Wal-Mart in Boutte generously donated the iPad Minis for our event,” Pitz said.

In addition to providing a great summertime outlet, Pitz said those who visit their local libraries over the summer may be surprised to learn about some of the programs and events no being offered.

“I think we are very vital. Just like we have a wonderful school system, I think our resources are up there with what we offer to all residents of all ages in St. Charles Parish,” she said. “If you haven’t visited one of the St. Charles libraries in a while, the summer is a great time to take a trip over because we have so many things going on.”


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