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
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
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