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The City Journals

Library Launches Reading Challenge

Jul 15, 2016 08:38AM ● By Tori La Rue

Girls pose for a picture with giant sunglasses at Salt Lake County Library Service’s summer reading challenge kick-off event. – Salt Lake County Library Services

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Around 5,000 attendees from across Salt Lake County filed into the Viridian Event Center and Veterans Memorial Park in West Jordan for Salt Lake County Library Services summer reading program launch on June 4.

The 2016 summer reading challenged titled “On your mark, get set… READ!” is sports-themed, so mascots from Utah sports teams and REAL Monarch players Eric Osswald and Jony Caparelli got their pictures taken with participants and signed autographs at the kick-off. The event also included bounce houses, a magician, yo-yo performances, West Jordan Police and Fire vehicle tours, a rock wall, community exhibitors, face painting and other activities.

“I have been here for four years since we opened, and this is our very most popular event of the year, so I wasn’t surprised at the turnout,” Susan Spicer, manager at the West Jordan Library, said. “I was so happy that everyone came back. It is just so awesome to see the enthusiasm about reading.”

The purpose of the launch was to draw attention to the summer reading program. Each year, the program includes prizes for tracked reading, but the program was redesigned this year, enabling participants to get credit towards prizes by reading, learning something new, doing something outside, helping a child learn and visiting a library.

“We acknowledge that, while reading over the summer is really important to help stop the summer slide and help kids be on target to start school next year, it’s also important to have 21st century skills,” Library Program Manager Nyssa Fleig said. “[The redesigned program] ties in with the mayor’s goals of healthy communities and getting outside and having healthy habits and opportunities.”

Mel Green and his five children under the age of 10 came to the summer reading launch. The children climbed the rock wall and jumped in the bounce house and heard about the adjustments to the reading program.

“I like that going to the library is one of the activities because I think that might get us to come here more, but I think that playing outside is just like a given,” Green said. “If my kids are going to eat, they will be outside. The changes will just help us to get through things faster, but we are still more interested in the reading aspect.”

Mel tries to get his children to read every night, but he said the reading program helps motivate them. Those who complete the program get a free book and a pass to designated Library Days at the Natural History Museum of Utah. During the school year, it would be harder to focus on a reading program because the Green children have only a few free hours each day between school, chores and dinner.

“They mostly just want to get out and play, so it is hard to get them to read,” Green said. “During the summer, they have a lot more time, so they are more likely to want to spend an hour reading.”

Green said he thinks his children will be able to complete the program several times over before the summer is through. To complete the challenge, participants must do 30 activities that fit within the challenge criteria. Marathon Reading Records are available for participants who want to keep participating after they finish their first tracker.

The program is open to people of all ages from toddlers to adults. For more information about how to get involved in “On your mark, get set… READ,” visit any Salt Lake County Library location. The challenge ends Aug. 30.