Thursday, August 18, 2022

ELPL's 'Ocean of Possibilities': The Summer Reading Program for Everyone

July 8, 2022
The East Lansing Public Library on July 7, 2022.
The East Lansing Public Library on July 7, 2022. —
Photo by Sheldon Krause | The State News

How many books do you read over the summer?

Summer is the perfect season to explore the variety of genres books offer while staying productive and starting a new hobby. The East Lansing Public Library's 2022 Summer Reading Program, titled "Ocean of Possibilities," encourages exactly that – the exploration of new worlds through books for people of all ages.

"We are so excited to dive into the oceans of possibilities with our community this summer," Kristin Shelley, Director of the East Lansing Public Library, or ELPL, said in a June 7 press release. "Reading has so many great benefits for people of all ages, and we're making it as easy and fun as possible to maintain regular reading habits over the summer."

The program began on June 6 and will last through Aug. 8, individuals can participate in the reading program virtually or with paper logs. However, individuals must register to participate in the program on the READsquared website

Brice Bush , Head of Customer Experiences and Assistant Director at ELPL, said the 2022 program experienced an increase in more physical, in-personal traffic compared to previous years where COVID-19 caused the program to be more virtual.

The library did not have a virtual sign-up in the past, Youth Services Librarian Gillian Streeter said, and the virtual component of the program has been developing.

"The program is different depending on the age group, there's a pre-k, children, teen and adult program. They all function a little bit differently," Streeter said. "In the pre-k program, you can track the number of things you read, but we emphasize the different activities you can do together so like singing a nursery rhyme together, picking out a specific book like books on shapes or colors and things that are developmentally appropriate for the age range."

The pre-k program is designed for children from 0 to 4 years old. In addition, the program is designed for children and grownups to read and complete fun early literacy activities together, according to ELPL's website.

Once children part of the pre-k program complete tracking their activities, they will be entered into a grand prize drawing and prizes include books, stuffed animals and much more. Further, pre-k program participants who complete the program will choose a wooden toy provided by the RJ Scheffel Memorial Toy Project and decorate a fish with their name for ELPL's Wave Wall.

The pre-k and children's reading programs differ because the children's program is for children from 5 to 12 years old who have read for 15 minutes a day through the summer. Children who complete 18 hours of reading will be entered into a prize drawing for one of the following grand prizes: bubble wands, books, a mini camera, Schuler's Books gift cards, a Nintendo Switch Lite and an Amazon Fire.

Children will have a second grand prize entry if they complete all the bonus challenges, including listening to an audiobook and attending a library summer program. The teen summer reading program is designed for teens from 12 to 18 years old and is, similarly, minutes-based with optional missions.

"The entire emphasis is to encourage reading for fun and for personal education. We have lists and recommendations if people want them but they're open to reading whatever they like and in the format they prefer," Streeter said. "If they like audiobooks, if they like graphic novels, if they like prints and digital prints, all those things are open. Magazines count as well. if someone's reading to you, especially for the children's programs, that counts as well."

Likewise, Streeter said the adult summer reading program is quite straightforward because the program asks adults to read five books by the end of their summer.

"The summer reading program is a great way to win prizes and encourage people to participate in their community and broaden their horizons of what they read," Bush said.

In addition to the summer reading program, ELPL also has numerous events to look forward to for the remainder of the summer, like the "Deep Dive into Family History Series" on Monday evenings through the month of July and yoga outside the library on Tuesday evenings.

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