Big Rapids Community Library gears up for summer reading program

SIGN-UP: Amy Neilsen visited the Big Rapids Community Library on Monday and signed up her family for the summer reading program, including herself, her 5-year-old son, Ben (center), 7-year-old son John (right), and 3-year-old daughter, Kinsley (not pictured). (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

SIGN-UP: Amy Neilsen visited the Big Rapids Community Library on Monday and signed up her family for the summer reading program, including herself, her 5-year-old son, Ben (center), 7-year-old son John (right), and 3-year-old daughter, Kinsley (not pictured). (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — Winning prizes in a contest with free entry has a certain appeal for all ages, and the entire family can rack up points in the summer reading program at Big Rapids Community Library.

With a program theme of “Exercise your mind. Read!” library staff hope to encourage everyone in the area to enjoy reading this summer with an emphasis on healthy choices and wellness.

“We have a program for every age group,” said Miriam Andrus, library director. “We’ve got prizes and activities for kids, adults, teens and family programs.”

Sign-up began Monday and the entire family is welcome to participate. Points are earned based on the age level of the participant and how long they read (or are read to by someone else). Points can be redeemed for various prizes and for every five points earned, the participant’s name is entered into a drawing to win a tablet computer. The library has one tablet to give for each age group.

BOOK FAIR: The Big Rapids Community Library is hosting a Scholastic book fair through Saturday, June 11, in the lower level. As people sign up for the summer reading program, they are invited to visit the sale. Pictured, library staffer Howard Botma looks through one of the books for sale. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BOOK FAIR: The Big Rapids Community Library is hosting a Scholastic book fair through Saturday, June 11, in the lower level. As people sign up for the summer reading program, they are invited to visit the sale. Pictured, library staffer Howard Botma looks through one of the books for sale. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

The Scholastic book fair at the library also began Monday and runs through Saturday, June 11. The book fair opens at the same time the library does each day and closes at 5 p.m.

While summer reading programs are traditionally viewed as children’s activities, the library has had a growing interest since it opened the program to adults in 2012. The first year, about 30 adults participated, Andrus said, with numbers swelling to about 160 last year.

“Lots of adults enjoy reading and they might like to participate and get their name in the drawing for a tablet,” she said. “If you’re an adult who doesn’t read a lot, we’re hoping you’ll sign up to participate to be a good role model and make it a family fun thing.”

The summer program officially begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 10, at the library with the kick-off celebration. Families can enjoy face painting, tie dye, inflatables, a rock-climbing wall, field games and races. Free hot dogs will be available and concessions will be sold.

Attendees who bring donations of toiletries, such as soap, toothbrushes or toilet paper, will be able to have a free turn at the rock-climbing wall. In the event of rain, the kick-off will move to the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, located at 435 N. Michigan Ave.

“The kick-off should be really fun,” Andrus said. “There’s always a lot of people who show up.”

Participants can begin reporting their time reading to earn points as of Monday, June 13, when the weekday activities portion of the program begins. Throughout the remainder of June and the month of July, the library will host a different activity, with the only exception being from July 2 to July 4, when the library is closed for Independence Day.

A full listing of activities is available in the summer reading program brochure, but events are designed to appeal to different age groups, from a children’s gymnastics class to a wine and painting night for adults 21 and over. Several activities will include animals, outdoor games, crafts and more.

On July 9, the library has rented out the movie theater and will be giving away tickets to see the movie “BFG.” To be entered in the ticket drawing, reading program participants must be signed up and have reported reading hours by June 25.

“The summer reading program is open to everybody,” Andrus said. “You don’t have to live in our library service area.

“You can read anything — newspapers, textbooks if you’re taking a summer class, or you can even count the books read at storytime if you go. Audio books also count — we just want people to be involved with books.”

Maureen Krueger was at the library on Monday and signed up her nearly 3-year-old daughter, Adaline, for the summer reading program.

“We do stuff at the library all year and we did the summer reading program last year. It’s something fun to do in the summer,” Krueger said. “Last year, I really liked all the extra-curricular activities they had — every day there’s something different.”

To sign up for the summer reading program, visit the library at 426 S. Michigan Ave., and fill out an entry form. At that time, participants receive a reading log and other information.

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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