HANCOCK COUNTY — Attention all bookworms: It’s not too late to get involved with summer reading programs, which are in full swing at local libraries.
Readers of all ages have been flocking to the Hancock County Public Library and Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library, which are offering prize incentives for reading as they do each summer.
For those steering clear of public spaces due to COVID concerns, librarians encourage patrons to check out materials online. With schools closed since spring break due to the pandemic, they say keeping kids hooked on reading throughout the summer is more important than ever.
You just might hear a “bingo!” being shouted from within the Fortville-Vernon Township library, where the summer reading program challenges patrons to complete bingo cards filled with various reading activities.
Challenges include things like reading in bed, outside under a tree or while eating a snack, or to read a book set in another country. Kids are encouraged to do things like read aloud to a family member or a stuffed animal.
“We try to make it fun in ways that add doing something a little different while reading,” said library director Karyn Millikan. “We encourage them to read an author they’ve never read before, or to try a nonfiction book, maybe something you wouldn’t normally read.”
Rather than tracking titles or time read, participants are asked to complete the challenges until they get two lines of bingo. They can receive prizes — toys for the kids, candy bars and cash prizes for the adults — based on the number of bingo lines they complete.
While the program ends July 17, there’s still plenty of time to get reading, said Millikan. Patrons can register at the library or online.
The same is true at the Hancock County Public Library, where the summer reading program began June 1 and ends Aug. 1. “You can still get registered and log the time you’ve read in June,” said Cody Flood, the library’s access services manager.
The theme for the summer reading programs at both the Fortville and Hancock County public libraries this year is “Imagine Your Story.” Readers are encouraged to get imaginative by incorporating some fiction and fantasy books into their summer reading lists.
“The summer reading program is something we look forward to every year,” Flood said, and it’s not just for kids.
“We very much encourage the adults to participate too. What we’ve found over the years is when parents participate, it’s so much more likely that the kids will participate, so we really encourage families to do this together. We have some pretty spectacular prizes,” he said.
The county library’s program is based not on the number of books but on the amount of time read, including time spent listening to audio books.
“Whether it’s listening to an audio book or reading the back of a cereal box in the morning, you can count that as your time,” Flood said.
“We just want people reading and engaged, because it’s good for your brain and good for your development. Especially given our current situation, everyone might have a little more time on their hands. You might as well read and get rewarded for it,” he said.
Participants can register for the county library’s summer reading program at the main branch in Greenfield or the Sugar Creek Branch in New Palestine, but logging time and registering for prizes all takes place online.
Patrons receive one digital entry ticket for every hour read, and can digitally place those tickets in a number of different prize drawings online. “You can divide your entries up however you want, by putting them all into one or spreading them out for different prizes,” Flood said.
While kids and teens have their own prizes to choose from, this year’s adult prizes feature gift cards to local businesses. There’s also two prize bundles to Hitherto Coffee and Gaming Parlour in Greenfield, which includes two board games, apparel and gift cards for food and drinks.
“We’re also giving away multiple Kindle Fire devices,” said Flood, “so people can use our online resources with them.”
Children in fifth grade and under can enter drawings for gift cards to kid-friendly local shops like Jack’s Donuts, Mozzi’s Pizza, The Mug, GameStop and Hometown Comics.
Teens in sixth grade and up can enter to win gift cards to teen-friendly spots like Hitherto Coffee and Gaming Parlour, McCleerey’s Sporting Goods, Legacy Cinema and Evolution VR.
The library’s youth services manager, Cathy Riley, said the end goal of the summer reading program is always the same — encouraging kids to read.
“The (program) is set up to support the research on reading regularly throughout the summer to retain reading skills. It’s also an opportunity for kids to talk about, and find more of, the books they enjoy reading. The library staff is here to listen and recommend more titles,” she said.
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Summer Reading Programs
Fortville-Vernon Township Library
Program takes place through July 17
Register in-person or online at fortville.lib.in.us/summer-reading-program
625 E. Broadway, Fortville
Hancock County Public Library
Program takes place through Aug. 1
Register in-person or online at hcplibrary.beanstack.org/reader365
900 W. McKenzie Road
Sugar Creek Branch
5731 West U.S. 52