Summer Reading Program Unleashes Competitive Spirit
Local News - Newsmakers
Written by Helen Hamilton   
Saturday, 13 June 2015 07:16

MILLBANK – Last Monday, the Millbank Public Library began its Summer Reading Program with the catch phrase “Be Reading Royalty!” Local librarian Harriet Roe began the program seven years ago as a way to keep kids busy during the long break from school. “The city council was concerned about the level of hooliganism on our local streets,” explains Roe, 27. “What’s a better way to occupy hooligans than to offer them a big stack of books to read? No teen boy is going to disrespect his elders after reading a ‘Tale of Two Cities’.”

Although levels of juvenile delinquency have not yet declined over the past seven years, the Millbank Public Library decided to continue the program this year. “Even if the hooligans aren’t reading, this is a service that we offer to the rest of the community. Millbank is a community of lifelong learners, and it’s our duty, as librarians to foster that culture,” says Roe. unhappy-kid

The guidelines of the summer reading program are straightforward. Members of the public library sign up and pledge to read a certain number of words between June 8 and September 1. At the end of the summer, those who fulfilled their pledge receive a free book. Roe adds, “This year, in addition, we thought it would be great to offer a little extra push to encourage more reading in the community.”

The little extra push referred to above is the title, offered at the end of the summer, to the King and Queen of Reading. One Millbank male and one Millbank female will be crowned at the end of the summer, based on number of words read. Competition for the title is expected to be fierce. “I’m excited for the chance. I have never been royal anything,” claims Meryl Burgato. “Royal pain in the,” added Keith Burgato, her husband, before being cut off suddenly by a large handbag.

Roe admits that it hasn’t taken long for Millbank’s competitive spirit to manifest itself. “It’s been less than a week, and people have come up to me to ask if words they had already read once counted, like street signs and advertisements. I have seen with my own eyes, patrons pushing each other out of the way so they could read all the titles of the books on the shelves before the other person “claimed” them for their own count,” remembers Roe.

Roe says, “I just want to emphasize that the whole point of this program is to enjoy reading all the literature our library has to offer. If you get to 100,000 words just reading instructions for your blender over and over, that seems like a massive waste of time. It’s not like the title really means anything.

Some Millbank residents might quibble with Roe’s statement. “When I am Reading Queen of Millbank, I vow to be a just and wise leader. I won’t make everyone bow to me or call me “Your Majesty”, at least not all the time,” says Ms. Burgato, who says she has read over 40,000 words over the last week. Many of those words were from credits and title sequences from her giant DVD collection, according to Ms. Burgato. “You can’t imagine how many words there are after a movie. I can just rack them up. Words like Key Grip and Best Boy are going to be my path to ruling this town.”

“My mom won’t let me play my Wii or go outside,” claims Gretel Bowland, 9. “She says that if I get to be Reading Queen, she will be royalty by association. I’ve read every single Junie B. Jones at the library and am now halfway through the Chronicles of Narnia, but mom says I should try the phone book.”

Librarian Roe says she will not change the guidelines for this summer but is definitely considering adapting the program for next year, keeping Millbank’s penchant for chaos in mind. “Either that, or I’m going to ask for a transfer to a different library system.”

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Last Updated on Saturday, 13 June 2015 07:25

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