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400 Readers, 40 Days, and Foam: A Celebratory End to the Summer Reading Program


Last Tuesday afternoon, August 16, a cannon launched a continual stream of white

foam twenty to thirty feet across the grassy commons of the Frankenmuth Farmer’s

Market, signifying the end of the library’s Summer Reading Program with a full-blown

foam party. A mob of ecstatic children skipped, jumped, and rolled through knee-deep

foam—entirely non-toxic, non-staining, and biodegradable—and emerged frothed from

head to toe while parents mingled and snapped photos on the sidelines.


In one corner of the open-air pavilion, teens volunteered to make an assortment of

colorful balloon animals for the children. In another corner, a girl exclaimed, “It feels just

like a bubble bath—without the water.” It was a moment of joy, excitement, and

celebration.


All summer long, since the program began on June 1, nearly 400 readers of all ages

have been filling out BINGO cards with various reading challenges. The main goal of

the Summer Reading Program was to promote a daily practice of reading, but I’m fairly

certain that the various prizes for completing BINGO cards also served as a form of

motivation for some.


For adults, prizes consisted of a reading journal (5 books completed) and a local gift

card (10 books). For tweens and teens, prizes came in the form of books, $10 Jimmy

John’s gift cards, and a prize packages containing an assortment of coupons, candy,

and a small gift. Children’s prizes were tallied in 10 day increments, with additional

prizes for every 10 days of reading. Prizes ranged from coupons donated by

local businesses to toys that went along with the summer reading theme, “Oceans of

Possibilities.”


Summer reading has been offered through the Collaborative Summer Library Program

(CSLP) at the Wickson Library for 21 years. Since its conception, the program has

shifted from a numbers-based focus of counting books and time spent reading to a

habit-based focus that emphasizes the importance of daily reading.


Summer reading participants, especially children and tweens, were encouraged to

establish a daily practice of reading in order to maintain learning levels and prevent

summer slide—the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they

made during the previous school year. For children, the goal was to complete 40 days of

reading throughout the summer.


In total, the Summer Reading Program gave away roughly 400 prizes for the BINGO

reading challenge and received $1,200 in monetary donations. Additionally, there were

a handful of other summer programs, such as Story Time, Farmer’s Market visits, and

teen hangouts that gave away 700 items worth of free books, Story Time kits, and Take-

and-Make kits for kids.


The BINGO reading challenge may be over, the foam party a favorite memory, but as

summer comes to a close and families prepare to send children back to school, the

benefits of participating in the Summer Reading Program will last for years to come. It is

our hope that community members of all ages continue to establish a daily practice of

reading, one that stretches beyond summer and into each upcoming season. Happy

reading!

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