The ‘Build It’ theme aims to appeal to kids into Lego and Minecraft while encouraging literacy in the annual summer reading program at Greater Victoria libraries.
The Summer Reading Club for kids aged 12 and younger launches across the region, including Oak Bay’s Monterey Avenue branch, on June 25. Registration for the special summer programming opened June 15.
“This is the most important fun program we do at the library,” said Sarah Isbister, children and family literacy librarian for Oak Bay. She toured local schools promoting the program and learned kids in the region are already well versed, with many 10-year-olds having 10 club medals stretching back to their infancy. “It’s so rich and continuous an experience,” she said. “Kids are proud of the reading they do over summer.”
Last year the club attracted more than 6,000 kids over the GVPL’s 10 branches.
“It’s grown so much over the years, it’s tripled in size,” said Tracy Kendrick, children’s and teen service co-ordinator. “It’s a very popular club, not only because the library staff deliver a wonderful program but also because it’s free.”
Children are encouraged to read whatever they’d like: fiction, non-fiction, magazines and audiobooks.
“Any reading is good reading,” says Isbister, noting audiobooks on long vacation car rides even qualify in the literacy and comprehension realm.
“Over the summer, children have more free time for reading for pleasure,” Kendrick said. “Developing a love of reading is key to becoming a lifelong learner, especially when the whole family takes part. A love of reading is key to success in school, the workplace and lifelong capacity for personal growth and wellness.”
Children who can’t read can still join the club and be read to by a family member or friend to collect their stickers and prizes.
“We encourage them to read for 20 minutes a day for seven days for seven weeks,” she said.
The theme for this year’s Summer Reading Club, which originated in the 1970s, is Build It. As always, the material used provincewide for reading programs features the work of a B.C. illustrator – this year the work of Shayne Letain.
“It’s not specifically related to Lego and Minecraft but it’s going to appeal to kids who love that stuff,” Kendrick said. “[Letain] has done some really appealing illustrations this year, that’s what we use for making the poster and reading record.”
Kids can collect stickers and earn prizes. In Victoria 6,013 kids received reading records last year, with 1,140 kids participating in Oak Bay.
“The incentives are really motivating for kids,” Kendrick said. “The other part of the club is there are lots of wonderful free programs kids can sign up for.”
The year-round babytime and storytelling sessions are augmented with science and nature programs, music, storytelling and more.
“We have about 140 programs that kids can sign up for, they range from a half hour to an hour,” Kendrick said, adding they’ve added a couple of multi-day puppetry camps this year.
“Our programs are a mixture of [those] run by our children’s programmers and we hire external presenters as well,” she said. Instructors from Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary and Victoria Symphony Orchestra offer a varied expertise to summer programming.
“The other way they can find out about the programs and how the club works is to pick up a brochure at the library. It explains how the weekly prizes work and how to register for the programs,” Kendrick said.
Online registration for the special programs opened June 15 at gvpl.ca. Kids can drop by any branch to pick up a reading record starting the last day of public school, June 27. Check their online calendar for programs, or adult summer sessions and teen offerings at GVPL.ca.