by Mary McCarthy
Sick of hounding the kids to read more? Then get them down to your local library today and sign up to the Summer Stars Reading Adventure.
This is the annual free reading programme available in Ireland’s 330 public libraries from 15 June until the end of August, which aims to get children excited about reading. https://www.librariesireland.ie/services/right-to-read/summer-stars #SummerStars19
And coming from a parent who has to hassle her kids to turn off the TV and get the books out—it works.
At first this is because you get a small reward once you have read a certain amount of books. And after that, the joy of reading is discovered.
When you sign up, you get a reading card that your child (if they can write) has to fill in with the titles of eight books they have read and what they thought of them. Once you hand in a completed card, you get a fresh one and the small reward.
Last year’s swag included pens, pencils, a backpack, rubbers and a pencil case at the end. As every parent knows, prizes, no matter what they are, are great motivation.
The children can also write book reviews and draw pictures to go with them, which are displayed in the library.
This was brilliant for getting some practice of the letters in over the summer without having to make a big deal of it. They were proud to see their hard work displayed and enjoyed giving their opinions on the story.
Last year I signed up my lot and they ended up in competition with each other to see who could race to the end of the reading card first. This was an outcome I had not dared hope for.
At the end of summer we went to the closing ceremony in Pembroke library in Dublin, where they were presented with a medal and a certificate, which they were super proud to receive.
The library staff were so helpful in suggesting books the children might like. And because they needed to constantly have a book on the go, the children were reading more than usual, which encouraged them to look outside the type of books they always go for. There are only so many wimpy kids in the collection, so they were forced to look elsewhere.
And as every reader knows, one book leads to another. For instance, my ten-year-old is now an avid reader of graphic novels and this stemmed from being introduced to the Asterix collection in the Summer Stars last year when the librarian suggested to him these might be quicker to whip through. Once he read a couple, he was completely hooked.
Summer Stars was set up four years ago and each year gets more successful, with over 3,000 children benefitting last year.
Angela O’Connell, who works at Pembroke library, says it’s a win-win for everyone.
‘Parents are so happy to get their kids reading more, the children discover a love for books in a fun way and we are pleased the library is busy in the summer months. I believe it encourages the kids to pick books over screens and to widen their choices of what to read.’
This year there is a sci-fi space theme to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. And there will also be a bunch of children’s events such as story-time sessions and special events with authors, so keep an eye on your library’s website and ask for details from your librarian. You may need to book for some of them.
Support your local library and instil in your child the priceless gift of a love of reading this summer. They will be forever grateful.
Mary McCarthy is a freelance journalist writing for a number of publications. She is an avid reader and an iron-willed book club administrator. @maryknowsbees