This summer, the Evanston Public Library is taking nearly 4,000 kids, teens and adults on exciting adventures without leaving the City. With partnerships around town, EPL staff and volunteers are working hard to put books into the hands of residents to increase literacy and stem summer learning loss.
“Summer reading makes you more creative, builds your expertise in subjects that interest you, makes you smarter about the world around you and helps you retain knowledge learned in school,” boasts the EPL’s “Reading Takes You Everywhere” summer program.
The program is incentive-based to keep people reading, Janice Bojda, Youth Services Manager for EPL, told the RoundTable. From June 1 to Aug. 19, children and adults of all ages are encouraged to read every day for at least 30 days this summer. Participants log their reading either online or on paper and earn a prize at each 10-day check-in. Prizes include mood pencils, stickers and earbuds. Weekly raffles and giveaways also motivate readers along the way. Upon completion of the 30-day program, all participants get to choose a free book.
Activities and programs around town help encourage reading as well, said Ms. Bojda.
In the Libraries
EPL hosts summer activities for all ages in the Main Library and many of the branches. “Read with Me” pairs beginning readers with volunteers to practice reading out loud or to enjoy being read to. “Drop-in Crafts” allows kids to design a spaceship, make a paper boat and more. MakerKids activities let kids create things like candles, digital comic books and jetpacks from recyclables. Story times, tea parties, magic shows and graphic novel groups all get kids into the Library, which inevitably encourages reading. Teens can participate in Arcade Game Design Camp or Robotics Camp. “Hacking Electronics” provides hands-on tech-related projects each month. DIY, “Art as Activism” sessions, gaming tournaments and more engage teens grades 6 through 12. Adults can participate in book discussions that cover a range of interests, from science fiction and fantasy to African American literature, graphic novels and more.
In the Parks
Free all-age activities are hosted by EPL Monday through Thursdays at Robert Crown, Fleetwood-Jourdain, Mason and James parks. Residents can drop in and make pinwheels, origami, bubble wands, suncatchers and more and can also take some time to read books brought to the park.
EPL also works with Evanston summer camps to bring reading into each day. Kids are automatically enrolled in the summer reading program through camp registration. Library staff helps supply books for campers, said Ms. Bojda.
Aside from working with Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department, EPL partners with others to deliver reading services as well. Faculty advisors from School District 65 work with EPL to create the curriculum and activities for the program. The McGaw YMCA, Y.O.U., Ridgeville Park District and Family Focus work with the library to embed reading into their summer programing and camps. Though a program called “Everybody Reads,” diverse book collections are provided to at-risk kids.
“We are all over,” said Ms. Bojda of the Library staff and volunteers. It looks like there are no plans to slow down. The EPL is already thinking of how to make their summer offerings “more seamless” so it is easier to see what activities are available. She said the Library is considering a database that would allow residents to sort activities so they can better find services that interest them.
More information on the summer reading program and a calendar of events are available on the Library website at EPL.org.