Summer 2014 by the numbers

Summer in Fond du Lac is full of boating, biking, picnicking, gardening. Add to the list: reading. Lots and lots of reading.

The more than 4,400 kids, teens and adults who participated in the Fond du Lac Public Library’s summer reading program – Reading is Brain Food – logged 2.5 million minutes over the 10-week program. For comparison, that level of participation blew 2013 out of the water, when 2,700 people registered and logged 2 million minutes. And that year was a barn-burner.

So, yea, summer reading in Fond du Lac is a big deal.

Compared to last year, registration numbers were up across the three programs: by 55 percent for kids (ages birth-12), 21 percent for teens (grades 6-12) and 153 percent for adults.

The programs promoted reading as a healthy activity for all ages, and the library was happy to provide rewards. Each time a reader turned in a card showing they’d read for a total of five hours, they’d get an instant reward. Every child who finished all four cards got to pick out a new book to take home.

The books were purchased with a $1,000 donation from the Charity Club of Fond du Lac. So far, library staff has handed out more than 800 new books this summer, nearly twice the number that was handed out last year.

“Kids couldn’t have been happier; they loved picking out their very own new book,” said

Children’s and Teen Services Coordinator Sarah Newton. “The Charity Club’s generosity has allowed us to provide a meaningful and lasting reward that kids and parents won’t soon forget.”

The library again offered bags of Faris caramel corn as prizes for adult and teen readers. More than 2,700 bags of popcorn were handed out, a 60 percent increase from 2013. Teens and adults who turned in all four cards by the August 15 deadline had the chance to win grand prizes that included gift cards to popular stores such as Hot Topic, Chimera and Fond du Lac Theater, as well as gift baskets, bundles of new books and more.

“We were delighted to be the nexus of summer reading,” said library Director Jon Mark Bolthouse. “The fun programs, entertainment and rewards all get us to a serious goal: to keep kids and families engaged in reading yearlong.”

The annual summer reading programming takes a great deal of planning and resources. Along with the donation from the Charity Club, the library received $1,000 from the CitizensFirst Grand Giveback, a competitive prize awarded during Walleye Weekend; $1,000 from Fond du Lac Festivals; and $500 from Kohl’s Cares. As well, many prizes were donated by area restaurants, including Chimera, A&W, Culver’s, Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Pizza Ranch, Subway, Taco Bell and Taco John’s. Teens had a wrap-up pizza party thanks to Ang an Eddies, Bob’s Pizza, Joe’s Fox Hut and Philly’s on 4th.

“Without the community stepping up, we’d be unable to offer programs that bring kids and teens in droves,” said Newton. “Kids come to have fun and make stuff, and we hope we’re nurturing a love of learning and exploring in the process.”

In the photo: Charity Club President Trisha Krug, right, and Library Assistant Julia Cartwright help children at the YMCA day care to pick out new books as rewards for completing the library's summer reading program. The club's $1,000 donation to the library paid for the more than 800 books that have been handed out. Charity Club funded the summer reading program in 2013 as well, using proceeds from its annual Charity Ball. The ball – set for Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 – is the club's primary fund-raiser; the club donates all money raised to programs benefitting children in Fond du Lac County.

 

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