“This is the largest kickoff we’ve ever had. There are easily 450 people,” says Erin Ulrich Saturday afternoon at Central Park Library’s Summer Reading Kickoff Party.
The even better news says Ulrich, the library’s acting division manager for Youth and Extension Services, is that “this community already loves reading. Today is a bonus for them. They love the library and appreciate what it does for them. They’re very supportive of it.”
The summer reading kickoff party included arts and crafts, relay races and a healthy obstacle course sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, free popcorn, and the crowd’s favorite—the fire-eating, comedy juggler Greg Frisbee.
Vivian Kwon and Stephen Lynch enjoyed the sunny day with their daughters, Natalie, 3, and Sophie, 5. It was the family’s fourth year attending the summer reading kickoff.
“We read a lot. The girls love to get rewarded with a book at the end. They accomplish something and get a souvenir,” says Kwon. “We read with them nightly.”
In 2011, almost 3,000 infants through sixth graders, and more than 800 teens, signed up online for the summer reading program. The group had a finishing rate of about 60 percent. This year, July 14 is the last day to sign up (www.library.santaclaraca.gov), and awards will be available July 23 – August 19.
“We don’t limit how many books kids read,” says Ulrich. “As long as they turn in their reading logs, they get a prize.” Families can print out a reading log online or pick one up at the Youth Services Desk.
Prizes for youngsters who complete the “Dream Big Read!” are a certificate and a free paperback book. Teens who sign up for “Own the Night” and read at least five books receive a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card and a chance to win a free Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet.
“Studies show that when kids don’t read in the summer, they fall behind in literacy skills when school starts,” says Ulrich, emphasizing the importance of the summer reading program.
But the focus on reading isn’t just for kids. Adults who sign up for the “Between the Covers” program and read at least five books, get a prize and a chance to win a Nook Color or $50 Barnes & Noble gift certificate.
Funds for the prizes are provided by Mission City Community Fund and Santa Clara City Library Foundation & Friends, which raises money—nearly $27,000 last year—from the sale of used books donated to the library.
Check the library website for additional summer programs: family fun nights, family movies, and special entertainment programs for first to sixth graders.
Santa Clara Masonic Lodge #299 was at the Summer Reading Kickoff Party to provide free fingerprinting and photo IDs for children as part of its nationwide Hi Tech Child ID Program. The lodge also provides this community service every September at the Santa Clara Art and Wine Festival. Community organizations interested in the Kids ID program can contact the lodge at (408) 241-5026 or check the website: www.liberty299.org.