Librarian: Have you given any thought to how many books you'd like to read this summer?
Miss M: Yes. One thousand.
Mr M: Eighteen.
We compromised on one hundred each but I have no doubt they'll do that and more in the library's summer reading club program.
Each year the public libraries across the city host their kick off events for the TD Summer Reading Club with fun activities at each branch (which are also free!); contact your local branch for specific details and dates.
We're always eager to hear about ways to entertain the kids all summer and, you know me, if it's free, fun and educational ("edutainment!") I'm all over it. Our first stop in this quest for summer fun, as it often is, was to the library to sign up for the summer reading club and to grab a copy of their free (yes, it's free, all free! wheee!) programming for the summer.
Miss M is five years old (well, "almost six" now) and she has been a member of the Halifax Public Library's free summer reading club since she was three ("almost four") years old. This year she also got her own library card (which she LOVES to use). Mr. M is three ("almost four") years old and he got his first membership to the club this summer.
Now to become a member there's a very rigorous screening process that involves some initiation rituals...just kidding! All you have to do is be at least three years old and then you simply walk in to a branch and sign up! It took less than five minutes (plus all the extra time of my kids pulling stacks of books off the shelf to get started on their goals).
There are two clubs actually - one for school age kids, and a pre-reader one but I don't really see much difference between the two other than parents will be reading to the pre-reader.
The way it works is simple. Here is the official info but basically log the books that your child reads (or has read to them depending on their program) and when they meet the halfway point of their goal (and/or July 31, whichever comes first) bring the log book into your library branch. They'll receive some little prizes (usually stickers or bookmarks) and be entered into the early bird draws. Then they work on the second half of their book.
Note: If your child is like mine and aims for a crazy number of books, you can always change the goal as you go along. They told me they want the children to reach their goals so you can adjust the amount (up or down) as the summer progresses.
When they reach their goal and finish their log book (and or September 10 rolls around) they bring it in and have their name entered to win one of the big prizes that are randomly drawn from all of the club members who submit their books at the end of the summer (like bikes, lego, and pool parties - the stuff kids' dreams are made of!).
There's also an online website for the book club with lots of activities and book suggestions for different ages. I also like how Mama's Manuscript (another local blogger) has set things up to help her boys reach their goals.
And, of course, we have dozens of reading and book club activities on the blog which combine books and fun reading extension activities related to the book.
Oh, and if your child happens to have fines on their library card (that would NEVER happen to us *cough cough*) they can read their fines away all year round. Simply check into the Info Desk and let them know you'll be working on it with your child and they get $2.00 deducted for every fifteen minutes they read (or are read to). Score!