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Something Sweet, Something Sticky: A Three-Year-Old’s Summer Reading Journey

This is the first year both of my kids, ages 2 and 3 (almost 4), have been able to participate in the Summer Reading Program, and it’s been really fun for the whole family.


As an almost four-year-old, we set Loren’s daily reading goal at an obtainable ten minutes per day. When he accomplishes that goal, he gets to color in a train. Of course, coloring in just one train is never enough for him, so he’s motivated to keep reading. Having a visual progress chart has been so helpful for him.


Last week Loren finished coloring in the final train on the first half of his summer reading log. He asked me to take him to the library “straight away.” He’s been working toward this goal throughout the entire month of June, which must feel like an eternity to someone his age. I promised him a trip to the library after dinner so that he could get his prizes. He was so excited. 


Loren beamed when Mrs. Kristen told him that he could pick out his very own book to take home. And then, even more so when we were handed a coupon for 4 free candy sticks from Rau’s Country Store and two free mini golf passes at the Bavarian Lodge. Of course, we had to go to Rau’s right away. It was an adventure. 


But it wasn’t just fun for Loren, I was relishing this one-on-one time with my oldest: the special trip to the library to claim his halfway summer reading prizes, picking out more books to read as he anticipates coloring in the next set of twenty items, and the spontaneous trip to Rau’s for candy sticks.


“Loren,” I said, “you earned all these prizes just by reading! Isn’t that fun?” He licked his red and green strawberry candy stick and nodded his head vigorously. 


I felt so full in that moment, so grateful for the entire summer reading process with my kids. There had been the shared act of reading together, each of the twenty trains representing ten precious moments we had passed side-by-side. There had been moments of deep belly laughs, reading our favorite books three or four times a row, and learning together. 


And there is still so much to look forward to. On Saturday, we’re cashing in our summer reading coupons and taking Loren to play mini golf for the very first time. There will be twenty bicycles to color in, twenty more ten minute reading sessions, and lots of snuggles speckled throughout the month of July. There will be more prizes, more books, more learning, more laughing.


All of this from reading. What a gift. We’re only halfway through the Summer Reading Program, which ends on July 26, but I’m already overflowing with gratitude and fulfillment. Of course, none of this would be possible without the hard work and arduous planning of our wonderful library staff, or the generous donations from our summer reading sponsors whose prizes make reading an adventure, a little bit sweet, and oh so rewarding. Thank you all.


To some, the Summer Reading Program may merely be reading, which is always accompanied by the many benefits that stem from the act. For me, at least this week, the Summer Reading Program has been a series of memories made, sweet moments with my kids, and the stickiness of little hands that should define every young person’s summer. While this is our family’s first summer reading journey, I smile knowing it won’t be our last. Happy reading, everyone!

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