For many years, The Fairfax County Summer Reading Program has encouraged students to continuing reading through summer vacation. The Summer Reading Program runs June 18 to Aug. 31. Preschoolers through sixth graders read 15 books, and students in grades seven-12 read eight books in order to receive a book of coupons full of free and discounted prizes.
In addition to the reading goals, the libraries also host a variety of free events from puppet shows to science demonstrations. Charlie Williams, vocal sound impressionist from Seattle, Wash. visited both Oakton and Patrick Henry Library with his program, “Eat My Dust.” The noise making comedian, when asked about the importance of summer reading said, “it gives kids something to do in the summer. It’s educational too, but we have to hide that. It’s also way cooler than it used to be.” The allure of prizes, coupons and free events are all designed to make reading fun, and with lists of recommended reading for all ages, many teens are eager to read everything. “For example, a teen came in last night and wanted to read all the books by Veronica Roth,” said Donna Heneberry of Vienna, page manager at Patrick Henry Library. “This is a very active area … this branch in particular, the community has really embraced this library,” she said.
THE EVENTS AND READING PROGRAM are a busy time of the year. “Over 200 signed up the first day. … We’ve had waiting lists and have been over capacity,” said Kim Ventrella of Vienna, youth services manager at Patrick Henry Library. When asked about a favorite summer read for teens, Ventrella said the comic adventure story, “‘Fake Mustache’ by Tom Angleberger, about a boy who buys a fake mustache and goes evil,” is very popular. Another recommendation for teens, Ventrella said, is “‘Feed’ by Matthew Anderson, a dystopian novel about the future.” When asked which books were most popular, Delia Ullberg of Maryland, eServices/Children’s manager at Oakton Library responded, “the ‘I Survived’ series are very popular … as well as ‘The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.’”
College age teens are able to reflect on the summers they spent with the Summer Reading Program because it has been around for many years now. “I always did the summer reading programs as a kid. The coupons were always a big incentive,” said Carly Taylor of Vienna, student at the University of Virginia. “I babysit all summer so it’s a really great place to bring the kids because they love it.”
While the program brings kids to the library, searching for new summer reads, each branch also features events and activities to get people about the library community. Inside the entrance of Oakton Library is a case of prizes that serves as the object of a number guessing game. By the end of the summer, whoever has guessed the correct number of items in the case wins all the items. Simply going to the library offers young students numerous opportunities to exercise their summer brains.
OUTSIDE OAKTON LIBRARY, Saturday, June 29, Carole Dowd and Jackie Giovannelli of Vienna stood at the book sale, hosted by The Friends of Oakton Library, whose mission is to enhance library resources and promote a strong relationship between the library and community. “The summer programs are wonderful,” Dowd said. “I remember a 6-year-old who signed up, and two days later read 15 books. She read her books by herself. It’s exciting for them to do.” There children are eager to complete their goals and reading becomes an exciting activity. Katie Howarth of Vienna, real estate consultant, visited Patrick Henry Library with her children Oliver and Maya. “We signed up for the reading program, I think, the day after school got out,” she said.
Donna Heneberry of Vienna said, “I think there is a great deal of public interest in library programs. It’s a great way to show kids the books as leisure and introduce them to series of books they may not be able to read during the school year.”
To sign up for the program online and to view a list of library events, visit fairfaxcounty.gov/library.