When the mayor of Rock Hill, Doug Echols, and the superintendent of the Rock Hill schools, Lynn Moody, announced last week a new initiative to encourage summer reading, Diane Williams was delighted.
Everyone that lives in Rock Hill should be proud of their community, she said.
Of course, Williams isnt exactly an objective source. Shes the childrens and teens services manager of the York County Library, and shes been with the library since 1974.
During the summertime, when some people are thinking about heading to the beach or lounging by the pool, Williams is up to her eyeballs in an extensive summer reading program that offers events and programs for every age level. This years theme is Dig Into Reading.
Last summer, Williams said York Countys summer reading program was the largest its ever been, with 20,748 children participating in June and July. Those children checked out nearly 109,000 items, up 8 percent from the summer before.
We hope thats going to continue, Williams said.
She said a new online registration system for programming should make it even easier for community members to participate and for the library to track data. Participants also can sign up for the program online, reading only e-books. Theres also links on the York County Librarys website to free reading resources, including hundreds of free e-books.
Children could sign up from home and never actually have to come into the library to accomplish their reading goal, Williams said.
More traditional participation in summer reading also still exists, or readers can select a mix of both e-books and regular books. Williams said there are plenty of options if people dont have access to the Internet in their homes or who dont feel comfortable letting their children online.
Each programming age group has its own reading goals. When that goal is met, participants receive prizes, many sponsored by local businesses, such as a reading medal for the 3- to 12-year-olds, a board book and a bath toy for the Tiny Tots or a drawstring bag for the rising 6th- to 12th-graders. Each time participants meet their goals, they get another entry in a drawing for gift cards, coupons and larger prizes.
Williams said many people often think that summer reading programs are only for children, which is a misconception when it comes to the York County Library and its six locations (including the bookmobile) across the county.
We started a program that even adults can be a part of, she said.
In addition to laying out reading goals, the library has an extensive list of activities and performances to participate in over the summer, with everything from puppet shows and story times to family game nights and jewelry making.
But Williams said the main goal of all of this is encouraging reading at any time of year and at any age. She said it breaks her heart when she hears parents tell their children to get less books at the library because of time limits on reading time during summer vacation. Williams said reading in the summertime is crucial to student development, a point Moody made at last weeks Rock Hill Reads launch.
Williams said the library strives to make coming there a destination and an event, not just something people do because they feel they should.
This is not the school, this is summer, Williams said. We want to make it fun.
Rachel Southmayd 803-329-4072
Summer reading goals by age group
Tiny Tots - Newborns to toddlers under 3
Caregiver and child complete 30 reading-friendly activities, such as reading a book, visiting a library, singing a song or practicing counting by Aug. 2
Dig Into Reading - Children ages 3-12
Complete 10 hours of reading by Aug. 2
Beneath the Surface - Rising 6th-12th graders
Complete 15 hours of reading by Aug. 2
Groundbreaking Reads - Ages 18 and up
Read at least three books by Aug. 2
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072