Readers in the Manhattan Public Library’s 2015 summer reading program broke all the records. This year, 2,488 kids younger than age 13 read an impressive total of 950,197 minutes. Teen reading doubled, with a total of 625,941 minutes read by 428 participants between the ages of 12-17, and adult participation reached an all-time high with 526 people over the age of 18 joining the fun.
Assistant Director John Pecoraro attributes the success to effective outreach efforts in schools, excitement about the new children’s library, and an increased effort to include teens and adults in the program.
Prizes were also a big incentive for participation. For the first time, the library was able to reward kids with two free books when they reached different reading goals. Thanks to generous donations, including a grant from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, the library gave 2,800 free books to kids and 263 free books to teens. Librarians will search for special funding opportunities for the 2016 program with the hope of providing prize books again next year.
Books weren’t the only fun prizes awarded to readers. Local businesses donated gift certificates for ice cream cones, donuts, chocolates, sandwiches, and passes to Sunset Zoo, the Flint Hills Discovery Center, and Exploration Place in Wichita. Summer reading wouldn’t be possible without their support.
Teens also had a chance to enter special prize drawings this year. For every 250 minutes of reading time, teens could drop a ticket into the prize basket of their choice. Prizes such as movie passes, pizza, and gift certificates helped make reading exciting for kids ages 12-17. For the grand prize, every teen who completed the 1,000 minute reading challenge was entered into a drawing for two Kindle Fire HDs.
The adults were just as excited as the kids. One library patron tweeted “Can’t wait! I usually get my year’s goal done during the summer reading program!” Special prizes such as custom floral arrangements, t-shirts, and gift certificates to local restaurants provided extra incentive for adult readers. Participants logged their progress in number of hours or number of books, and set a fantastic example for kids by showing how much fun reading can be at any age.
“Summer reading is all about fun. Everyone gets to choose what books to read, earn exciting prizes, and visit the library for fun activities. By making sure reading is fun, we can help foster a life-long love of reading that will bring countless benefits.” says Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager.
Activities are also a big part of the fun. The new children’s library was filled with kids attending summer storytimes, clubs, and special events. Attendance by more than 3,300 kids and 174 teens was recorded for library events in June and July.
Summer is definitely the busiest time of year at the library, and all the extra activities would not be possible without the help of volunteers. 24 teen volunteers donated a total of 698 hours this summer. Volunteers kept busy helping with storytimes, staffing the prize desk, and creating crafts for kids’ activities. Adult volunteers donate time to the library every week, assisting librarians with a variety tasks and activities and allowing staff the time to conduct special events.
This year’s theme “Every Hero Has a Story” let kids, teens, and adults show their super reading powers. The city can rest assured, knowing that thousands of super kids will start school with improved reading skills, ready to learn and conquer the curriculum this fall.
Summer reading will begin again in June 2016. Businesses or organizations interested in sponsoring the program should contact Jennifer Bergen, Youth Services Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (785) 776-4741 ext. 156.
The library would like to give special thanks to all of the 2015 sponsors: Manhattan Library Association, Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, Pediatric Associates of Manhattan, Applebees, Carmike Cinemas, Chick-Fil-A, Chili’s, Coaching for Literacy, The Dusty Bookshelf, Exploration Place Wichita, Flint Hills Discovery Center, Hazel Hill Chocolates, Manhattan Kiwanis Club, Noodles & Company, Panera Bread, Papa John’s Pizza, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N Bake Pizza, Pizza Hut, Ray’s Apple Market, Sunset Zoo, Taco Bell, Target, Varsity Donuts, Vista Drive In, Westloop Floral, Wheat State Pizza, and Which Wich.