Library opens final chapters of Summer Reading Program tomorrow

By 
M.P. Regan
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
We love a parade

Katelyn Krueger and daughter Karter march in the 2019 Dillon Public LIbrary’s Summer Reading Program Parade in downtown Dillon. The 2020 version of the annual event will be conducted under pandemic guidelines on Thursday morning. Gabrielle Regan photo

While its achievements have proven difficult to document due to restrictions brought on by the ongoing pandemic, the Dillon Public Library’s Summer Reading Program’s may have meant more in 2020 than the popular long-established, successful program has to its participants in any other year.

“It’s been a very challenging Summer Reading Program and very frustrating,” said Dillon Public Library Director Lori Roberts, who has had to implement a new way to log the tens of thousands of reading hours program participants accumulate due to the ongoing pandemic that has also forced her and her staff to police social distancing amongst young children at the program’s numerous events.

“We appreciate the community’s willingness to come out and be part of our activities while social distancing. We did not get as many kids as we usually have at some of those events, but we do appreciate the ones who came,” said Roberts of events that in past summers brought dozens or even hundreds of kids into downtown Dillon each week.

“And we’ve had to use a new online database so kids don’t have to come into the library to turn in their reading minutes. It’s been a huge challenge, because it will only allow you to enter so many minutes a day,” said Roberts of a program that inspires area kids to read thousands of extra hours each summer.

“I’ve had families say this is my kid’s best year for reading, but it’s hard to document their reading with the new system, so all our numbers will be down,” added Roberts, who, along with her staff, has soldiered on through the challenges knowing that the program may be more important this year than ever to area children.

“It’s really important to keep summer reading going,” said Roberts of a program founded as a bulwark against the “summer slide” in reading skills kids typically suffer during their summer breaks from school.

“And this year has been especially important—because summer slide this year won’t be three months, it will go across six months,” noted Roberts of the pandemicextended summer break from classes.

“The library has been working hard to keep kids motivated to read, so kids won’t be so far behind when school restarts in fall.”

Those efforts have included traditional programs, like reading with dogs and Teen Tuesdays, and annual events like a puppet show, and newfangled happenings like a magic show last month.

The roster of events will climax Thursday, July 23, with a bevy of happenings, starting with the annual 10 a.m. costumed kids parade in which area children (and their parents/guardians) can march from the parking lot at the Pioneer Event Center (formerly known as Shopko) through downtown Dillon

“The theme this year is Imagine Your Story, so they can pick who they want to be and their story and costume,” said Roberts of an event that typically includes dozens of costumed kids, with organizers asking that those costumes this year include a mask that will prevent coronavirus spread.

“The parade is still on, but people need to social distance and we are asking them to wear masks,” explained Roberts of the special pandemic precautions for this year’s library parade.

The parade will conclude a few blocks away at Depot Park, where kids will be treated to activities in a Renaissance Faire, plus get to buy treats and books with the credits they’ve earned through their reading since the start of the program in June, as well as collect prizes if they are among the top readers in their age groups.

“We have some really great prizes—like dinosaur eggs, LEGOS, family games and remote-control cars,” said Roberts, who will also be asking kids and their family members to observe safe practices at Depot Park.

“We’ll require family groups to sit six feet apart, and people to wear masks to enter the meal line or go into the book store area. Only two families will be allowed in the bookstore at a time, with only one allowed at a time in the meal line,” said Roberts of a process that will include the drawing of numbers to help maintain order and safety.

The Dillon Public Library’s Summer Reading Program will wrap up on Friday, July 24, with a 9 p.m. screening of Call of the Wild, the film version of the beloved Jack London book.

For more information about the Dillon Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, call 683-4544 or go to the library’s Facebook page.

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