This year’s BC Summer Reading Club (BC SRC) — offered free through the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library service (TNRL) — is out of this world, giving readers aged five to 14 an opportunity to Explore Our Universe, and for the first time it’s being offered virtually to young readers and their families.
The program is usually offered in person at branches throughout the summer, and features special programming, crafts, activities, and more. This year, participants will be able to take part by registering, then tracking their progress online from now until the end of September 2020.
“It’s far and away the largest program we offer every year,” says Melissa Lowenberg, Manager of Community Libraries for the TNRL. “But we do something a little different to other libraries in B.C., because we also have summer reading clubs for teens and adults. We’ll have those additional programs on our website (www.tnrl.ca) as well.
“The BC Summer Reading program is such an important program for kids. We’re aware of the ‘summer slide’ that can happen. Kids can lose a full grade if they don’t keep up their reading skills over the summer. If they can read every day in summer they’ll do better come fall when school starts.”
Registration is now open at the TNRL’s website and at https://bcsrc.ca/. Some of the online features that have been added to the program include digital badges for reaching reading goals, as well as a certificate of completion for finishing the program; live events and video demonstrations, including hands-on crafts and experiments; weekly stay-at-home activity packages; and a dashboard for parents/guardians to track their kids’ reading progress and the digital badges they have earned.
Lowenberg says that kids and their parents can also contact their local community library, which will have paper registration packages available. “You don’t have to sign up online. And each library will be having its own ‘Name a Mascot’ contest, with the lucky winner going home with the mascot.”
Summer Reading Club activities will be starting the week of June 29, but participants can register and take part at any time over the summer. All reading counts, and participation is easy. Kids can read whatever they want, including story books, information books, graphic novels, and comic books, and they can also listen to someone else read or tell them stories.
“A really important piece of getting kids to like reading is having them pick the books and topics. When they do that they’re much more likely to read and learn,” says Lowenberg. “When parents talk to kids about the books they’re reading, let them describe the books in their own words, because that’s much better for kids.
“Or you can be listening to audiobooks together, or the kids can be told a story. It’s increasing their vocabulary, introducing new ideas; it’s an engagement piece. And if you enjoy reading, kids see that and will mirror that activity. It can be a newspaper, or something online. Anything showing that reading is a worthwhile activity can be a terrific example for kids.”
The Summer Reading Club has a different theme each year. Lowenberg says one of the highlights of this year’s club and theme will be the “Ask an Astronomer” events in July and August featuring astronomers from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver.
“They’ll be on YouTube as well. We won’t be doing in-branch activities, but there will be takeaway activities that kids can pick up at branches. We’re doing the Summer Reading Club, but it will look a little different this year.”
The Province of British Columbia has invested $65,000 through the BC Library Association (BCLA), in partnership with the BC Libraries Cooperative, to enhance the BC SRC’s website and make online participation possible this year.
“Fun and engaging programs like the BC Summer Reading Club that help our kids strengthen their literacy skills are even more important this year,” says Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “I’m so pleased this incredibly popular program will continue this summer with expanded online features.”
The BC Summer Reading Club has been in operation for almost 30 years. In 2019, it reached more than 173,000 children in more than 200 communities around the province.