Summer programs at Camas and Washougal libraries offer incentives, fun events

Digging into reading

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A flyer from the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District delivers the following message: “Get Smarter: READ!”Those who sign up for local “Dig into Reading” programs get an added bonus: Prizes to reward minutes read.

The Camas and Washougal public libraries both have reading programs in place to encourage children and teenagers to read during their school break.

“Youth who read during the summer will practice their reading and comprehension skills, and are likely to start school in the fall more prepared,” said Ellen Miles, Camas youth services librarian. “That leads to smart kids who will grow up to be doctors and scientists who will change the world for the better.”

The Camas library has offered a summer reading program since 1942. Currently, prizes include gift cards, free meals, toys, books, T-shirts and a swim party to those who participate in and complete the summer reading program.

The library also includes weekly activities such as a juggler, magicians, crafts, games and summer movies every Wednesday at 2:30, with free popcorn.

Children who finish the reading program by Camas Days on July 26 get to walk with the library group in the children’s parade. The program runs through Saturday, Aug. 10.

Anyone of any age can participate.

“We have programs for kids, teens, adults and a Rubber Ducky Club for infants and toddlers,” Miles said. “Everyone can sign up on our website or in person at the library all summer long.”

The prizes and programs are two of the reasons why Hunter Lytle, now a volunteer with the Camas Public Library, participated in the summer reading program.

“My favorite part was all the prizes we got,” he said. “I felt like my reading was actually worth something other than good entertainment.”

Lytle, 18, is participating in the adult reading program this summer, as well as volunteering with the children’s program.

“I really miss the fun teen events a lot,” he said.

Seeing children and teenagers get excited about reading is Miles’ favorite aspect of the program.

“It’s an amazing moment when they realize there is a whole world of books and reading that they have access to, and that they can read and learn about anything they want,” she said.

Children and parents who aren’t reading on a regular basis may find the library programs give the incentive needed to begin. A recent survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that only one in three parents read bedtime stories with their children every night, and 50 percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books. More than 1,000 parents across the U.S. completed the survey online in April.

The Washougal Public Library is part of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library system, which has offered a summer reading program since 1972.

“This program is so important because it keeps children’s reading skills up over the summer vacation months,” said Chris Hughey, Washougal librarian. “It also exposes them to new learning experiences like music, juggling and participating in group skits.”

The summer reading program runs through Aug. 31. Those from birth to age 19 are invited to join.

Washougal events include magicians, ventriloquists, comedy, music and juggling. All events take place on Wednesdays at 2 p.m., beginning June 26 and ending July 31.

Prizes include game boards, iron-on patches and books. Grand prizes are a one-year membership to OMSI, a Discover Pass, and Kazoodles, Rose Quarter and gift cards, among others.

“Summer reading keeps children and their families connected with libraries, so that they have a resource when other problems or challenges arise,” Hughey said.