Despite unseasonably cloudy weather, last Saturday the Santa Clara City Library kicked off its 56th annual summer reading program with a festive afternoon featuring Zippy’s Almost Famous Balloon Circus, craft projects, and – of course – plenty of books for every age for long, lazy summer afternoons.
In 1965, then-city librarian Frances Klune launched Santa Clara Library’s first summer reading club, after observing that “the library didn’t seem important to Santa Clara children,” reported the July 26, 1965 San Jose News.
Today summer reading program signups are in the thousands – more than double what they were in Klune’s time – says Santa Clara City Librarian Julie Passalaqua, who has worked on the program more than 30 years.
Klune’s program put the emphasis on fun, and in keeping with that mandate, participants are free to choose whatever reading interests them.
“The accent is on reading for fun and pleasure,” Klune wrote in a 1965 Santa Clara Library report on the program. “The theme is always one that captures the child’s imagination. During the school year the child has been reaching up, extending himself in an effort to meet adult expectation. Summer is a time to relax and relish what he has learned.” (Today’s hyper-achieving parents would do well to heed her advice.)
Over the years the program has reflected the changing public imagination. In 1961, four years after Sputnik launched the space race, the summer reading theme was “Space Race to the Moon.” In 1964 the theme, “Come with us to the Book Fair,” highlighted the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The Mercury Project inspired “Into Space with Books” in 1966. This year’s theme is “One World, Many Stories.”
Everyone who meets their reading goals will get a free book. Students in grades 7 through 12 will receive a Barnes & Noble gift card, thanks to event sponsors Fairfield Residential, The Foundation & Friends of the Santa Clara City Library, National 1st Credit Union, The Beautiful Foundation, Santa Clara Host Lions Club, and Mission City Community Fund.
You have until July 16 to sign up at the library or online, and readers can start turning in their reading logs on July 25. Parents, even if your children are too young to read, they can still participate. Just keep a list of the books you read to your child.
For information visit library.santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=1971, or call (408) 615-2916.
Santa Clara summer reading program founder City Librarian Frances Klune (under the parasol) with the Friends of the Library in a 1965 Columbus Day parade. Photo courtesy of www.siliconvalleyhistory.org.