It wasn’t just about reading when the Santa Clara Library kicked off its Summer Reading Program on June 8 at Central Park.
“Today is our big kickoff for the 2013 Summer Reading Program,” said Erin Ulrich, youth services program coordinator for the library. “We usually have a big fiesta for our kickoff party. It’s a good place for people to sign up if they haven’t already. We have…sponsors, like Keypoint Credit Union, who is sponsoring our entire reading program this summer. We’re very grateful for them. We have our Foundation and Friends group here and Kaiser Permanente here in two ways. They have a booth where they’re doing arts and crafts with the kids and they’re also talking about the “Rethink Your Drink” campaign, which is trying to wean kids off sugary drinks and get them to drink healthy waters. They also have their relay station to get kids to exercise.”
Kids rode a bike, jumped on a trampoline, kicked a giant soccer ball, tossed bean bags into a bucket, crawled through a pool noodle tunnel, and answered a health-related question before receiving a jump rope as a prize. Many then learned how many teaspoons of sugar are in a can of Coca-Cola, 13.5 ounce serving size of juice and small bottle of Gatorade at the Kaiser Permanente table.
“People often think that juice is a healthy choice, but pediatricians actually only recommend four to six ounces for children,” said Joanne Seavey-Hultquist, South Bay community benefit manager for Kaiser. “Juice boxes tend to have six teaspoons of sugar…water is the absolute healthiest choice.”
“As part of our partnership we have developed these two characters, Dexter and Martina, and they teach about the rule of four,” she continued. “Dexter and Martina teach kids that if you divide grams of sugar by four, it will tell you how many teaspoons are in a drink. One of the great things we’re doing with the library this year is that we’re giving these [Dexter and Martina] books out for free to children.”
In addition to running through the obstacle course and visiting sponsor tables, kids of all ages created crafts related to the Children’s Summer Reading Program theme of “Dig Into Summer.” At the art tables, crafters wrote the letters of their name on paper circles and glued them together to make a name worm, made pop up gophers and created garden gnome hats.
Ventriloquist Steve Cheney also returned to the kickoff event to entertain everyone with his act.
In 2012, 2800 readers signed up for the children, teen and adult programs. “[Readers] can read as few or as many books as they want…we just want them to read, have fun and enjoy what they’re reading,” said Ulrich.
Children who meet their reading goal receive a new book provided by the Santa Clara Library Foundation and Friends; teens get a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card, and adults are given a small gift for reading at least five books. The program began on June 10, but readers can sign up until July 13. The program is free and children, teens, and adults can sign up at http://library.santaclaraca.gov/index.aspx?page=2512.