Continuing a decades-long tradition, the Speer Memorial Library are holding their annual summer reading program which has registered 225 kids this summer to read more books.
That’s according to children’s Librarian Lisa Rivers, who oversees the program.
To motivate the kids who have registered under the program, kids who are registered are required to read at least five books they want and turn in book reports to the librarians.
All the kids who complete the five book minimum requirement are then invited to the library’s summer party at Ray Landry Fireman’s Park in Mission where the top readers are automatically drawn to a giveaway of an assortment of prizes, Rivers said.
“Most students do their reports on books that are part of the Accelerated Reader (A.R.) program and use those reports as practice for when they take their AR tests as soon as they go back to school,” Rivers said. “It promotes literacy because the more books they read, the more these students turn into enthusiastic readers.”
According to a 2016 report from the Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy and Learning, in Hidalgo County 50 percent of the population remain illiterate compared to 58 percent in the entire Rio Grande Valley. The report also found 19 percent of adult Texans cannot read a newspaper.
Rivers said the high rate could stem from a lack of enthusiasm in reading, and the summer reading program finds many ways to make reading fun for kids.
Besides the book reports, kids ages from one through 18 can enjoy a variety of activities every day as part of the program.
This year’s theme, “ Libraries Rock,” for example, promotes musical education where dance classes happen on Wednesdays and participants are treated to guest speakers who introduce the kids to a style of music, an instrument or a dance.
On Thursdays, representatives from Bentsen State Park also visit the library to talk to the kids about the many types of animals that inhabit the park. Thursday evenings also feature yoga for beginners followed by a movie.
Fridays are Toddler Time where children as young as three-years-old can enjoy story time, baby yoga and a movie, Rivers said.
For the older kids, the library also offers “Teen Night” where teenagers enjoy game nights, arts and crafts and computer games. Rivers said. The Mission Consolidated School District also provides free lunch to these events every day.
Among the more popular activities in the program is the arts and crafts day, held every Tuesday. On the library’s most recent arts and crafts day, a group of 20 kids and their parents had to make a puppet out of pipe cleaners and paper clips to get it to stand on a paper cup and dance with the vibrations made by staples stapled to the cup.
“We get our crafts ideas from Pinterest,” Rivers explained.
The crafts keep the kids entertained and their parents can participate and help them out.
“We’ve been coming here every day,” Nydia Estimbo said as she watched her grandson-Zander Ryan Patterson-play with his paper cup. “Every summer he stays with me and for the last two years we’ve been participating in the summer reading program.”
Estimbo said she preferred having Patterson, 6, attend the program instead of staying indoors and playing video games or watching T.V. Patterson has read at least one book per day since the program started last month and besides gaining a much more active mind from reading, Estimbo said Patterson also learns several social skills such as how to interact with others and manners.
“And patience,” Patterson interrupted his grandmother to say.
To learn more about the summer reading program, go to the Speer Memorial Library website at mission.lib.tx.us or call 956-580-8750.