The Giles County Public Library this week kicked off their 2020 Summer reading program for local families.
This year is themed “Imagine Your Story,” which is centered around all kinds of stories, including tall tales, folk tales, personal family stories, global fables and fractured fairy-tales. This year the library is utilizing for the first time an online program called READsquared to manage the participants’ reading logs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the in-person activities offered in previous years must be curtailed, but the library has embraced the new system and all that it offers Giles County’s readers.
“READsquared is a program designed to encourage lifelong reading habits, and we hope everyone will take advantage of it,” said Program Coordinator DeAnne Parker. “It’s a great program. Very user-friendly, very kid-friendly.”
The library’s Summer Reading Program encourages reading by offering incentives like points and badges, as well as prizes provided by the library for meeting various goals and participating in activities throughout the summer.
Every family member is encouraged to participate. Pre-readers (age 0-4), young readers (age 5-8 and 9-12), teens and adults can all register. Through READsquared, readers will receive age-appropriate book recommendations and activities from their local librarians. Users log books read or minutes read to accumulate points towards the overall summer reading goal. Children can personalize their accounts with an avatar and can view their accomplishments throughout the summer, giving them a visual incentive to continue reading.
“We want to make sure that children maintain their reading skills over the summer break, and not succumb to the famous summer slide,” Parker said.
In addition to encouraging reading, the library is working to create a variety of hands-on activities in which families can participate while practicing social distancing, including a scavenger hunt around the Square and family fun nights at home. They will hold drawings to reward those who complete activities.
“We are trying to offer more activities for families this year because we know people are together this summer in ways that perhaps in previous years they haven’t experienced,” said Teen Services Librarian Elizabeth Roller. “We’re trying to make it easier on parents and families to do things together and get some enjoyment in this tough time.”
Children’s Librarian Susan Hickman will be decorating the library’s front windows each week with a “Weekly Window Wonder” that includes a coordinating activity such as guessing games and riddles.
Roller added, “We will continue to offer the online activities that we’ve had for the teens that have been successful during this quarantine, as well as online pop-up activities as the summer goes on,” which includes a regular online Zoom roleplaying game.
Each week they will offer “Take and Make” activity packets for pickup that are targeted at the various age groups or for families to do together at home.
“Under normal circumstances these would be a “Make and Take” but since we can’t do the hands-on activities one-on-one, it’s the reverse,” Parker said.
These packets will include activities to go with that week’s themes, including crafts, STEAM activities, writing prompts and games.
Completing the packets and other activities will be included as a mission within the program and contribute to the participants’ overall achievements.
Residents wishing to enroll in the program can visit the READsquared website at gilescountylibrary.readsquared.com or download the READsquared app on the App Store or Google Play. The library will be offering paper reading logs for residents who prefer them or who do not have access to the website or app.
While the library is not currently open to the public, they are accepting reservations for computer appointments and are lending books and DVDs by placing them on a table by the door for pickup. Books may be requested using the library’s Agent VERSO online catalog at gilescountylibrary.org or by calling the library at 363-2720. Summer readers can also read books from their home libraries or e-books checked out from the Tennessee R.E.A.D.S./Libby portals.
Because the theme includes a range of traditional stories, Roller added, “Many of these are in the public domain already, so there are even readings on YouTube.”
The library is still developing the program as recommendations evolve related to the pandemic, and the best way to stay up-to-date is via social media.
“We encourage everybody to continue following us on social media,” Roller said. “Brianna [Stephens] is doing an excellent job of putting information out there that is relevant to everybody, with not only information about what we’re doing, but other resources.
“We miss everybody as much as we know they miss us.”