Public libraries change lives. They represent access. Lifelong learning. Entertainment. Culture. Ideas. And because of them, the world is just a page or click away. They are free to all.
As communications manager for a 10-branch public library system in Ohio, I see our organization’s impact every day. And being a former journalist, finding and telling those stories is my favorite part of the job.
Most recently, I’ve been working to promote the library’s Summer Reading Program. It allows children and teenagers to track their reading activities and earn prizes along the way. The library system I work for has been offering the program for almost 50 years. This year, we saw a 70% increase in the number of participants the first week. The program is as popular as ever.
One mother found it so great for her daughter, she wrote to tell us thanks for offering the program. I interviewed her for a brief article which appeared on the library’s blog and in our newsletter. I found her story particularly inspiring and included it below:
Thousands of children and teenagers across the area are discovering a love for reading and learning this summer thanks to Clermont County Public Library’s Summer Reading Program.
“The library has unlocked a passion in my child that is truly priceless and for that, I am so grateful,” said Union Township Branch Patron Tracey Herzner St. John. “My daughter honestly waits by the door for me to get home to see if it’s library day.”
St. John’s six-year-old daughter, Isabella, is an active participant in the library’s Summer Reading Program. Research shows programs such as the one offered by the library are imperative for students to stay sharp. The largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the United States, Reading Is Fundamental, reports children who do not read over the summer will lose more than two months of reading achievement. That means by the end of 6th grade, kids who miss out on important literacy skills over the summer will be two years behind their classmates.
Isabella and her mom use the library’s online program to track all of Isabella’s reading activities throughout the summer.
“I’ve seen her confidence grow and she now will sit for hours and read to herself, rather than always asking me to read it for her,” St. John said. “She has always preferred math over reading until recently. It’s all thanks to our Clermont County Public Library!”
Isabella and other participants in the program earn prizes from the library as they reach certain goals. St. John said the prizes really add to the excitement for her daughter.
“When she found out she had a chance to win a messenger bag, she was all aboard the reading train,” she said. “I originally thought the chance for a Kindle Fire would be the motivator, but she’s really proud of her messenger bag. We now carry it everywhere we go filled with books. We look forward to all the many fun things she can get her hands on when we stop in to our local branch.”
St. John said she encourages families everywhere to get started and sign up today for the program. Her daughter has been spreading the word as well.
“She’s been telling other children about it when we go to the park so she’s already a walking advertisement,” she said. “If her excitement for reading can become contagious, we’re all for it!”
The free program is for ages 0-18 and is offered exclusively online. It ends July 20. For more information, visit the library’s website, http://www.clermontlibrary.org.
Opinions are my own. They do not necessarily reflect those of my employers past or present.