WESTFIELD/SOUTHWICK-Summer reading programs have been around for decades and for local librarians, the excitement of seeing people of all ages pick up a book for enjoyment is always a joy in itself for them.
Later this month, both the Westfield Athenaeum and the Southwick Public Library will launch their respective summer reading programs under the theme of “A Universe of Stories.”
For Patti Brose, young services librarian at the Boys’ and Girls’ Library at the Westfield Athenaeum, her first recollections of a summer reading program was when she was 6-years-old in New Jersey.
“We didn’t live close to the library so my mom would bring me and my sister to pick out materials to read at home,” said Brose. “We always looked forward to the big library party with ice cream at the end of the summer.”
Olivia Eberli, who serves as young adult librarian at the Athenaeum, shared a similar sentiment.
“At age 6 I was very excited about the summer reading program because I loved to read,” said Eberli, who grew up in Ludlow. “We all enjoyed getting prizes for reading.”
For Margo Storozuk, children’s librarian at the Southwick Public Library, growing up in Canton meant she didn’t have access to a summer reading program.
“I loved to read so we would go to the library frequently,” said Storozuk, noting her fondest memory at age 5 was receiving her first book, “Babar the King.”
The passion of reading that is shared by these women is passed on to the many patrons of all ages they encounter daily at both libraries. With the kick off of the summer reading programs fast approaching, all three women are encouraging area residents to take some time for themselves and read a good book – or two.
At the Southwick Public Library, Storozuk noted there are a host of special events centered on the “universe” theme this summer as well as access to “a lot of different books that are not always available at the school library.”
“We have books for everyone’s taste,” said Storozuk.
Storozuk is working on logistics for the summer program with Joanne Judd, children’s librarian, and Heather Paparella, teen librarian.
Storozuk said the library is fortunate to have several “coupon supporters” that will give each summer reading participant a treat. Currently, coupon supporters are Mrs. Murphy’s Donuts offering a free doughnut; Blossoming Acres Farm, a cinnamon doughnut; Summer House, an ice cream cone; the Daily Grind, a cookie; Southwick McDonald’s, an ice cream cone; The Notch Travel Center, a kid’s soft drink, and Storozuk said she expects a few more businesses to participate in the endeavor.
“We also truly appreciate the Southwick VFW Post 872 donation of 10, $10 gift cards; five from the Summer House, and five from Moolicious Farm, which will be used as prizes in our weekly drawings,” said Storozuk.
Pre-registration for the reading program in Southwick begins June 17 and continues through June 22 when a special opening day celebration titled “Fan Fest” is planned from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., including a magic show at 11 a.m., DC & Marvel Trivia at noon, fandom crafts, glitter tattoo applications and face painting. Freshly made cotton candy and popcorn will also be served.
“As part of Fan Fest we will have costumed characters engaging with children, and photos can be taken with them,” said Storozuk, adding she also encourages children to dress up in their favorite characters.
There are also special programs for teens throughout the summer, including a Teen Hangout Ice Cream Sundae Bar on June 13 from 2:30 – 3:30, and a Bottle Rocket Launch on June 27 at 2 p.m. Also, a Dystopian Escape Room is slated on July 3, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.; a Mosaic Suncatcher program, July 10, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.; and much more.
For adults, there are chances to win a prize in a weekly drawing, as well as extra chances by completing activity sheets. On July 17, professional photographer Jamie Malcom-Brown will present photographs of the region that he shot using his drone. The program will culminate, weather permitting, with a drone flying demonstration.
The reading program wraps up on Aug. 2 with another special celebration.
The Universe of Stories summer reading program is sponsored by Southwick Public Library, the Massachusetts Library System, the Boston Bruins and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
In Westfield, the official launch of the reading program is June 22 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on the Park Square Green. Games, crafts, face painting and signing up for the summer festivities will be among the highlights of the gathering.
The summer reading club begins June 24 and ends on Aug. 9. On the last day participants must bring in their reading logs to earn prizes or use raffle tickets. Raffle drawings are slated July 12, 26, and Aug. 9 with a grand prize drawing set for Aug. 12.
One of the unique features of the kids’ summer reading club is describing random acts of kindness because “kindness is out of this world.” For every random act of kindness, a child can earn a raffle ticket up to a total of five times.
For the kids’ summer reading club, there are reading challenges that encourage children to excel through several levels, from the protostar level and neutron star level, to the supernova level. At each stage, children will earn raffle tickets and a prize from the treasure chest.
“Kids can earn raffle tickets throughout the summer by reading and participating in our programs,” said Brose. “I tell students that reading is important because it makes you smarter, it increases your vocabulary, and you learn about new places.”
Eberli is putting the finishing touches on the young adult summer reading program which is geared for students entering grades 7 – 12. One of the highlights of the summer is Black Hole Bingo so instead of a reading log, students will have to complete a bingo card with each square featuring a different activity to complete. For each square completed, the student receives a raffle ticket.
“Some squares can be completed at one time,” said Eberli, noting an example is reading outside for 20 minutes.
For each bingo completed on a card, the student will receive a puzzle piece.
“The puzzle will reveal a secret code which will have to be reported to a librarian,” said Eberli. “If the student gives the right code, a special prize is awarded.”
When the bingo card is blacked out, the student is invited to a summer reading party to make a T-shirt to take home.
Raffle prizes will be displayed in the Teen Loft during the duration of the reading program.
“We encourage teens to read during the summer to keep their brain excited,” said Eberli, adding that ebooks are also a viable option.
The summer reading club in Westfield is sponsored by the Westfield Athenaeum, the Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum, the Massachusetts Library System, the Boston Bruins, and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.