In pursuit of a fine-free summer of reading


In our debt-inflicted society, there are some who cringe at the thought that their credit card will be denied when it is swiped at the department store, or the supermarket, or the gas station. For me, it is my library card.

I am under the impression that I will personally offend the librarian if an outrageously overdue book shows up on my account, accompanied by a hefty fine.  What book has slipped under a bed or retreated to the deepest recess of my son’s closet? How much do I owe in overdue fines and will I need to take out a second mortgage to pay for it?

In any case, a few dollars in overdue library books are worth it if the book is enjoyed by a child – or adult – through the summer.

There is something magical when a child puts vowels and consonants together and realizes they can read. It just clicks.  Words on street signs and cereal boxes come to life. Best of all, they can pick up a book and read to themselves.  Libraries in Brighton, Pittsford, and Mendon are offering plenty of incentives this summer for children to curl up with a good book, whether it is under a tree or on a beach blanket.

On June 25, the Brighton Memorial Library kicked off its summer “Make a Splash into Reading” program that runs through August 13 and is sponsored by the Friends of the Brighton Memorial Library.  Beach balls hung from the ceiling as youngsters were greeted with leis and ice pops by children’s librarian Tonia Burton. Girls dressed for the occasion in Hawaiian printed dresses. They decorated paper-framed sunglasses and said they couldn’t wait to read titles such as Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale.   

Registered children received game boards with pictures of beaches separated by five blank spaces. For every day they read 20 minutes or more, they move one space on the board.  When they reach a beach, they return to the library to pick a prize out of a beach pail – and borrow more books.  After a child reaches the fourth beach, they receive an invitation to the summer reading party in August.  For every person that finishes the reading game, the Friends of the BML will donate three books to the library.

If you missed the kickoff party at your local library there is no need to worry. It is summer, after all. Register your youngster in person or online at www.brightonlibrary.org, www.townofpittsford.org-library, or www.mendonlibrary.org.

It is relatively easy to steer eager new readers to books that contain vibrant illustrations and lively prose. But what about those independent-minded tweens and teens?  Deena Lipomi, circulation and young adult services manager at the Brighton Memorial Library said she rarely offers verbal recommendations because “that might seem too pushy.” Instead, she lets the books speak for themselves.

“I look for books with colorful, modern covers and turn them face side out on the shelves.  For teenagers, you can’t strongly suggest a book, or they may not read it, and the book can’t look dated.”  To entice this age group, Lipomi also creates book displays by theme, such as the popular vampire series. But thankfully, the classics still endure. Lipomi said that the multiple copies of Catcher in the Rye and Jane Austen are “(checked) out all the time.” 

The joy of reading can also blossom in adulthood.  Jodi Warner-Farnsworth, a retired French teacher who lives in Canandaigua enjoys the personal impact she makes on the adults she helps to read through Literacy Volunteers of Ontario County.

“The biggest gain I have seen in the people I tutor is the self-confidence that spills over into all aspects of their life. Sometimes, all they needed was just someone to believe in them,” said Jodi.

Jodi started tutoring because she was interested in giving back to the community. She also will be training volunteers this fall. Jodi teaches multi-sensory strategies that help adults with learning disabilities learn to read with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic teaching methods. If you are interested in becoming a literacy volunteer, contact the organization at 585-396-1686 or go to www.literacyvoc.org.

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

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