Summer reading!


Summer reading! If you read my previous library columns you already know that it was during the summer that my reading skills actually developed and the library was the main source of my materials. Back then there were no organized programs or even a children’s librarian to direct me to age appropriate books. With the aid of my sister I somehow selected the books that helped me decode the mystery of letters and sounds and started on the journey of a lifelong love of reading.

My fondness and enjoyment of reading is a year round pleasure, but I do embrace the special promotions that the Mifflin County Library holds each summer season. Everything from the kickoff event to the fantastic ever-changing book displays, the prizes and the children’s programs are first rate. The staff is so encouraging in recommending books and reminding me to fill out my coupons to place in the prize containers. I love it as an adult and can remember quite fondly how much fun it was to take my children to the library during their vacations.

As an educator, I knew the value of reading during the summer months and the specially themed programs helped to keep interest high for my kids. One phenomenon that occurred was the competition for seats at the sessions. In the early ’90s, the internet was not available for quick access to sign-ups and we relied on in-person contact or telephone (land lines!) to make our reservations. What a disaster and disappointment if I missed a deadline to reserve our spots. And then we had to make sure we got there early enough to get the best seats!

A lot of learning, socialization and stimulation took place during those activities. So often kids will be quick to say that they are bored and seek stimulation in video game playing or watching television. Both of which are OK pastimes when done in moderation. Even though we traditionally look at the library as a “quiet” place it is in fact bustling with action and opportunities. The Children’s Room is designed for interaction! The Summer Program offers a platform for continued learning and a way for kids to get together.

Most parents enjoy introducing their children to books by reading to them at a young age. Some eager moms and dads read to their babies before they are born! I remember the first basket of books that I shared with my son and daughter and how I had to eventually provide bookshelves for their collections. Every volume in a favorite series had to be purchased.

Oftentimes once your child can read for themselves we step back from that oral reading time. At one point I found that I wasn’t connecting with my middle school aged son. I knew he loved to read and was open to the fantasy genre. “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien was given to me back in the ’70s and I treasured the tale and the trilogy that followed. I had read and reread it and decided to offer to begin the saga by reading aloud each night with him. He was immediately hooked! The bedtime story was reborn. It was magical to introduce Tolkien to him. Needless to say he wanted to pick up the pace and he began reading ahead at times. The love we both shared for the written series extended to the movies. At the end of the first movie, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” we sat in our seats and declared we would wait there until next year for the next installment. Attending the midnight screenings in State College were a must.

If you are searching for a common ground with your child think about a book you are interested in and your passion could very well bring you a new special connection with him or her. Of course the Mifflin County Library and its Kish Branch can be the source of the materials you need. Pick your book from the PBS’ The Great American Read! And if you want to make that comparison to the movie (readers of my previous columns know how I feel about that!) be sure to choose a novel with a movie version.

I have traveled through Middle Earth and Hogwarts with my son. Tris in the Divergent series and Katniss in the Hunger Games brought both me and my daughter great excitement and thrills.

Consider starting this new tradition in your family. It can last a lifetime.


Margy Zook is on the Board of Directors for the Mifflin County Library. She is currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale and will binge watch the series when the book is finished!