Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a young mother with (obviously) even younger children. When they were very small I loved spending my days with them and reading, writing and making little projects together. Oh, it was swell. Then they got older, and as hard as it was, I had to accept that they needed to start going to school. The tears on those first days were incredible (though I tried to hide it lest I embarrass them).
But somewhere along the way, things changed, and suddenly the idea of them not being in school sent chills through my body. Not that they were ill-behaved. In fact, they really never got into trouble. It's just that I dreaded those words. The two words that are like nails on a chalkboard from June until they haul their little selves back to school in August: "I'm bored." As adults it's hard to really grasp the concept, so happy are we for any chunk of time when we can do whatever it is we want to do. Still, each year something was needed to give our collective life a purpose during those long, hot days of summer. And we found that salvation at the Allen County Public Library.
Each year, as soon as school was done for the summer, we would head to the library and get started with the summer reading program. The incentive to read, to keep track of the reading and to collect prizes was a game changer. My kids were all pretty devoted readers anyway, but just that little extra nudge made such a difference. Plus, I always believed it kept them motivated to read and learn and stay sharp instead of losing a lot of ground mentally. (I counted this as English class and on a good day, The Price Is Right as math.)
Last year we took our granddaughter to ACPL for a variety of programs and to participate in the reading program. By reading to her for 10 minutes at a time, we were able to keep track of her reading, and even at the age of 18 months she appreciated her chance to collect prizes. (Her favorite was a Clifford the Big Red Dog board book she chose herself.) As it turns out, 30,000 people participated in ACPL's summer reading project last year, and this year's - called "Just One More Page" - runs through July 31. Reading logs can be picked up at any of the ACPL branches.
If you don't live in Allen County, be sure to check out your own community public library because most have programs designed to keep kids engaged throughout the summer months. My personal favorite is at Kendallville Public Library (and not because my stepdaughter Marie is the teen services manager there) where one of their many interesting program includes A Celebration of Ringo Starr's Contributions to the Beatles, a presentation on June 17, neatly timed to coincide with his first visit to the area. National Beatles' scholar, Aaron Krerowicz, presents "Starr Time: A Celebration of Ringo Starr's Contributions to the Beatles" from 6:30-9 p.m., a look at how underrated the drummer was to the success and legacy of the Fab Four. To find out more about the program, you can call Kendallville Public Library at 260-343-2010.
There are dozens of other fun and entertaining things waiting for you this summer. Just contact your local library and fend off boredom in your household.