Even though it is summer, it's not the time for children and teens to take a vacation from reading. With students out from school and parents looking for ways to keep them entertained while fulfilling school summer reading obligations, summer is usually the busiest season for libraries across the United States. This summer, the Georgia Public Library Service's Summer Reading Program themes are Get Creative @ Your Library (children) and Express Yourself @ Your Library (teens).
In an effort to motivate youth to read, public libraries offer free, year-round programs designed to encourage children and teens to read for fun and to read more often on their own. Cobb, Cherokee, Fulton, Forsyth, Gwinnett, and DeKalb public libraries each offer a summer reading program starting in early June and wrapping up right before the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Program descriptions and schedules are just a click away in the kids and teen links on their web sites. Registration is usually required either in person at one of the library branches or on line at the library's web site for each participant. Some counties require participants to have a library card. The first library card is free for each child, teen, or adult following the individual county's library card policy. Parents or guardians must be present for a child or teen to get a library card.
While the scheduled events at each library branch will vary in content, most summers starts with a kick-off celebration in early June. After registering, each participant gets a reading log to track books read and how many pages or minutes. Inexpensive prizes or raffle tickets are given away each time a child or teen reaches a particular reading goal. Besides the traditional weekly toddler and preschool story times, other fun events may include performers, puppet shows, book discussions, movie nights, arts and crafts projects, game nights, workshops and teen volunteer hours. Wrap-up events in August usually involve a raffle for bigger prizes. Events and prizes will vary based on each county's available budget, resources, staff and community needs.
Library programs are free. Unlike summer camps, day care, or vacation bible school, there is no financial commitment so parents are not obligated to bring their child to every single program. While at the library branch, the family may use their library cards to check out books, DVD's, CD's and software for free as long as the material is returned by the due date and in good shape. Keep in mind that space is limited and families may have to sign up in advance to attend programs by contacting their neighborhood library branch children's department.