Last summer a Grade 5 student picked up the first book in the Harry Potter series. That boy, a reluctant reader but a participant just the same in the Greater Victoria Public Library’s Summer Reading Club, worked through the novel word by word and page by page.
It took him the entire summer to finish, but he read every day. His reward for completing the program was a new book to take home.
Amongst the others on the shelf he spotted the second book in the series and that was his prize.
It’s stories like this one that inspire the GVPL to continue to offer the program, turning reluctant readers into those that continue to turn pages while fighting the summer slump – the regression in reading skills that can occur when a child doesn’t read over the summer holiday.
To help get more children involved, GVPL’s Friends of the Library volunteer group strengthened the Summer Reading Club with a $10,000 donation.
“We see how important it is for kids to keep learning and reading throughout the summer. We’re glad to be contributing to their education in a fun, engaging way,” Friends president Irwin Henderson said in a release.
Jessica Woollard, GVPL’s communications officer, noted the program is as big as it is because of their support. “It’s amazing,” she said, adding the program has come a long way in terms of offering prizes for participants.
The funds will go towards purchasing weekly reading incentives for participants and toward other summer programs such as story time, puppet shows, themed programs and science and health- related activities.
“I was at one of the branches today watching the kids come in and they were so excited,” Woollard said.
At their annual general meeting last month, the Friends of the Library committed $20,000 to support the redesign of GVPL’s website, which will launch next year.
“The volunteers have given hundreds of hours to fundraising for the library, and the positive impact of their generosity is felt every day,” said Kevin Murdoch, GVPL board chair, in the same release. “Thousands of children will enjoy learning this summer thanks to their support, and the community at large will welcome a new and improved website, the library’s ‘virtual branch,’ to help them explore GVPL’s collections and resources to keep learning and growing.”
Since registration began on June 23 for the Summer Reading Club, more than 3,000 children have registered across the region. The program is offered at all 11 branches, included the three West Shore locations.
While the Summer Reading Club is open to children 12 and under, adults and teens can get in on the fun with their own summer challenge, offered on GVPL’s website through an online contest. Woollard noted the popularity of program has already surprised staff.
“We came back after the weekend (the contest opened) and we had dozens of submissions,” she said.
For more information on the contest go to gvpl.ca/programs-events/summer-challenge.