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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Summer Reading Club

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, July 5, 2015


As a child, my mother would make sure that I was signed up for the Summer Reading Club at the local public library.  She felt it was essential to “keep me reading” through the summer months so I would be ready for the return to school in September.


My public library, in those days, had large poster boards listing the names of those participating in the Summer Reading Club, with a gold star sticker for each completed book reading during the club’s timespan. 


I returned the books that I had checked out and read to the Circulation Desk, so the librarian could place the gold star stickers on the chart designating the books I had read.


You always received a Summer Reading Club bookmark, perhaps some prizes and puzzles, and maybe a game to take home.  (This was the 1960s, no electronics yet)


As the summer passed, there were always other children that read lots and lots of books, and had lots and lots of gold star stickers on their line on the poster boards.  Usually, there was a girl that read a whole bunch of books.


My mother said that it was important that I read books over the summer to keep my reading habit fresh for school in the fall.  It wasn’t very exciting.


Actually, I used the public library year-round thanks to a persistent mother and established a reading habit that has remained part of my life.


Following college, and library school, I assumed the positon of Library Director of my first library in June, and there were the Summer Reading Club charts on the library walls, filled with names and BLUE star stickers, with several girls showing longer lists than the boys.


The theme of the club was “Big Summer Reading Club” although the size factor of the club didn’t have any apparent connection to anything.


I decided that the new Library Director shouldn’t be critical upon arrival, and lots of children had signed up for it, and an exciting-sounding picnic in the City Park may bring it all together.


The picnic at the end of the summer was indeed a wonderful event, except for someone’s mother whose high heels got stuck in a mud hole and she sat down in the mud in her white dress.  (Who wears high heels and a white dress to a picnic?)


Anyway, 32 years ago I arrived in Steubenville, also in June, and the Summer Reading Club was already underway and, yes you guessed it, poster boards full of names were on the wall with RED star stickers.


The Club was based on animals, so it did have a theme and the children loved reading about their favorite animals and there were many activities planned for the summer.


About 1990, the Children’s Consultants for the State Library of Ohio thought that a Statewide Theme for Summer Reading Club might bring a newfound interest in reading, and would allow all libraries to join together to purchase supplies and services for club around the state.


(I held my breath, and was relieved that the statewide plan contained NO post board reporting mechanisms or star stickers of any color for the club)


That tradition continues today, with the 2015 Summer Reading Club titled, “Every Hero Has A Story.”  Activities over the summer have included a magic show, worm race, super hero visits, and visits from the police and fire departments.


The “Library News” newsletter for the summer is filled with activities for both children and adults, as well as the library web site not to mention the Library Facebook Page.


At one of the adult programs, we found that half of the 45 people attending had learned about it from Facebook!


You can read a book the old-fashioned way, or you can download an eBook to your tablet or whatever device you use.  You can read an eMagazine online, or search one of the databases from the library web site.


But sorry, no gold, blue, or red star stickers on poster board.