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As a kid, I needed no incentive to get mental exercise through reading. In fact, I often needed a nudge to detach from my books for dinner, for bedtime, or for outside real-life adventures. But some kids need a nudge in the other direction—to keep up a good reading practice, especially during the summer when there are so many diversions to indulge in before the months run out.
Keeping the mind active with stimulating stories prevents the sort of summer hibernation that could mean a slow and bumpy transition into the next school year. It’s a great thing, then, that libraries throughout the Bay Area offer programs to keep kids engaged in some of the best books that have hit the shelves in recent years—and in a community of peers who are also exploring the library’s resourceful diversions.
As you know, summer camp is also an environment that wakes up kids’ intellectual, creative, and innovative strengths: our activities list includes chess, fun science, LEGO builders and robotics, and marine exploration. Not to mention the interactive and imaginative space that all of our activities have to nudge kids to expand their physical, intellectual, and emotional ranges all at once. Camp thrives as a community of peers bringing their vulnerabilities and curiosities together, creating a place where they feel welcome to take creative risks and explore their growing passions and identities.
The public library community’s potential is not so different. It exists to provide resources and to bring together diverse sources of knowledge. The Bay Area libraries’ children’s rooms teem with impressive, colorful media collections that successfully divert kids to mental exercise and the meeting of minds with other kids also waking up to summer learning. If you haven’t visited your local branch of the Bay Area library network with your kids, put it on your list for the start of the 2017 summer season.
Signing up for a library card is free and easy, and it gives your kids a great way to practice responsibility and active involvement in their local communities. With that library card, registration for a local summer reading challenge is easy and opens up doors your kids may have never walked through before. We’ve collected some highlights from this summer’s reading programs throughout the Bay Area.
San Francisco Public Library Summer Reading Program
May 13–August 20, 2017
San Francisco’s program this summer is all about diverse opportunities to express yourself through learning and exploration. Tracking guides are already available at the library for kids to start recording the time they spend reading, learning, and even just time spent at the library. This journey is full of twists and turns and the chance to win prizes. The Summer Stride Guide will give you an idea of the learning opportunities and events scheduled for kids, teens, and adults too. Maybe this summer you’ll participate as a whole family, setting an example for enthusiastic exercise for the mind and the imagination.
Berkeley Public Library Summer Reading Program
June 16–September 2, 2017
You can sign your kids and teens up easily online for the Berkeley Public Library’s Summer Reading Game. You’ll be able to download a game card and get started with books and activities that help kids to discover their unique creativity. This year’s theme draws from the inspiration of different kinds of artists and creators, including authors, builders, and architects—and your kids too!
Marin Library Summer Reading Program
June 10–August 5, 2017
At any of the Marin County Free Library branches, your kids and teens can get involved in this year’s summer reading challenge. Kids will have their very own summer folder to record the time they spend reading and completing other learning activities. They’ll earn Book Bucks once they’ve tracked enough reading hours, and those can go toward prizes. Or they can even donate their Book Bucks to the Marin Foster Care Association! Teens will earn scratcher tickets for reading and writing reviews. Check out the events calendar for ideas of other activities kids can count toward their summer challenge goal.
Santa Cruz Library Summer Reading Program
June 1–August 18, 2017
This theme is very familiar; kids are going to be waking up their imaginations all over the wide Bay Area community this summer. In Santa Cruz, kids and teens can sign up to earn a Book Buck for each hour spent reading. Then, they can take those Book Bucks straight to participating local businesses to shop! Or, kids can exchange their Bucks for raffle tickets and chances to win prizes. Sign up and access reading logs here. And mark your calendar for The Festival of the Book on July 30th to mingle with the library community, watch an acrobatic performance, meet a therapy dog, and receive a free book.
These programs may not all be available to you and your kids because many of them are reserved for local residents. Start by reaching out to your city or county library to see what reading program they are offering for summer 2017. For extra motivation and enrichment, check out these nationwide summer reading programs that help kids to set goals and celebrate reading milestones.
We encourage kids to bring some new or favorite books to summer camp with them so they don’t lose their reading momentum over the course of camp sessions. In the same way, summer library reading programs and challenges help kids to keep up the momentum between the last day of school and the first day of the next school year. Even if you’re still counting down to the last day of school, now’s a great time to start planning some great routines to keep your kids’ minds and imaginations active.
Are you interested in the ways that camp can help to keep your kids engaged and growing during the summer? Get in touch with us, and we’ll share with you some of the great activities we offer and stories of the camp community that helps kids to feel supported and inspired to challenge themselves.