Library program encourages patrons to 'Dig in'

June kicks off many area-reading programs with the goal of keeping kids and adults reading during the summer months.


The Soldotna Public Library held its summer reading program celebration over the weekend at Farnsworth Park. This year’s national library theme is “Dig into Reading.”

Linda McMilin, library clerk, said the program is open to all age groups as well as visitors. Packets can be picked up at the current Soldotna Public Library location in the Peninsula Center Mall.

“You don’t have to be an Alaska resident to be in the program,” McMilin said. “We just want to see everyone reading.”

Kids in kindergarten through sixth-grade are encouraged to read the daily amount and record it on a sheet that comes in the packet. When the sheet is filled and signed by a parent, it can be returned to the library in exchange for a program T-shirt.

For teens, the goal is to read six books in the eight-week period to be eligible for the prize drawing. Weekly prize drawings are held for teens that submit a summary of the books they read.

Adults are also included in the program and urged to keep reading with an eight-week reading goal of four books.

“They are the role models for our children,” she said. “Kids like to do what they see adults do.”

McMilin said participants do not have a specified reading list; they can pick the books they want to read for the program.

“We just want to see them digging into reading,” she said.

Nikiski North Star Elementary strives to keep students reading with the “Cosmic Summer Reading” program.

Tricia Young, reading interventionist at NNS, said the program has been going for the past eight years, and each year it grows.

“We’ve had anywhere from 60 to 90 kids participate,” Young said.

At the end of the school year each student receives a brightly colored reading log and the knowledge that their participation will allow them to celebrate with the other readers in the fall. Past celebrations have included ice cream parties and gatherings at the Nikiski Pool.
“It is something kids are expecting,” she said.

Young said the program is a community effort. Money to support the program is raised by the annual Fun Run held during the Family Fun in the Midnight Sun event. The Boys and Girls Club also helps the kids achieve their goals during the summer months with encouragement and a bulletin board to track student’s progress.

Students who participate get a free book and can attend the celebration held in the fall. Students who reach the goal of 1,200 minutes also get a free T-shirt.

Young said the top two summer readers each receive a $25 gift certificate to River City Books

“We want to keep them reading, to keep their skills up and to stay in the groove,” Young said.

Kaleidoscope Charter School and Tustumena Elementary have similar programs to encourage students to keep reading through the vacation months with reading logs and reward celebrations.

Kalifornsky Beach Elementary motivates readers with their own program, which has expanded this year to include the Scholastic Book Club. The school will participate as a team and the minutes read this summer will be recorded on the school’s website.

According to Scholastic’s website, Scholastic Book Club is challenging schools across the country to set a new world record for reading. The top 20 school teams will be published in the 2014 edition of “The Scholastic Book of World Records” and the number one team will win a visit from “Captain Underpants” author Dave Pilkey.

Melissa Linton, K-Beach principal, said the kids are excited about the program at the end of the school year.

“This is just one more motivator to keep (the students) reading,” she said. “It is a super program.”

Before the school year finishes, an assembly is held to get kids excited and ready.

While in previous years reading time was logged on paper, this year students also have an electronic option for logging time read.

“The goal is 30 minutes per day,” Linton said.

When the students begin the school year, collected reading logs and electronic time is tallied and another assembly is held to reward readers for their efforts.

“It is a great assembly to start the year with,” Linton said.

The Kenai Community Library’s “Dig into Reading” event begins today at 4:30 p.m. and will finish up on July 29, with both celebrations held at the library.

Kyrstin Floodeen, children’s librarian, said the library’s summer reading program has been going on probably as long as the library has been open.

“It’s about encouraging kids,” she said.

She said the popular nine-week program had about 130 participants last year.

“I think there is a lot of benefits for kids that maybe they wont really realize until much later,” she said.

The program is focused on elementary-aged children, but Floodeen said there are events and prizes for those in junior high and high school as well.

For kids who are not reading during their vacations, Floodeen said research shows they can lose a lot of their skills.

“That is something they can never catch up to again,” she said, adding that the student’s peers who are reading often start at a higher level in the next school year.

Floodeen stressed the importance of reading for all school-aged children.

“Even reading as few as six books throughout the summer will keep kids on track for next year,” she said.

Reach Sara Hardan at


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