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May 25, 2004 > Summer Reading for Adventurers Extraordinaire

Summer Reading for Adventurers Extraordinaire

by Susana Nuñez

The Alameda County Library is preparing for another summer and resumption of its renowned summer reading game. Renowned, that is, to its younger members. For the past 30 years, the Library has held its reading game with themes ranging from last year's Dinosaur Island to space and folklore. Summer Reading Game Coordinator Bonnie Janssen estimates that about eight to nine thousand children will participate in this year's game. Last year's reading game reached a record high of nine thousand participants throughout the Alameda County Service Area.

This year's exciting and mysterious theme is the Secret of Pirate's Cove. The game will be available at all Alameda County Library branches beginning the week of June 14th continuing through August 14th. Janssen stated, "In addition to having a rollicking good time, we have found through the years that children who participate in the summer reading game maintain and increase their reading skills." Janssen, who has worked with the library for over 30 years, explained that libraries started doing summer reading programs to keep children interested in a knowledge enhancing pastime. Many older programs for children included keeping a log. Children kept track of what they read. Janssen stated, "We turned it into a game on the bingo board. They can read books from home or the library!"

Before "Adventurers and Buccaneers" can begin to play the game, they must first pick up their game board at any Alameda County Library branch. The game board, similar to a bingo board, is vital to playing the game, since every twenty-minute reading period entitles "Buccaneers" one spin of the special dial available at all Library branches. By reading, participants will be able to reveal the secret. One of the interesting rules of this game is that even "Young Adventurers" who are not yet reading can participate. For every twenty-minute period they listen to others read, they earn a spin on the dial, too!

Readers who complete one row receive a winner's game sticker and temporary tattoo. They also have the option to continue reading and spinning until they have completely filled their bingo board. This qualifies them for the special "black-out" prize; an inflatable pirate parrot of their very own, a pizza certificate from Round Table, and a new key chain from the San Francisco Giants. All of the prizes are provided by sponsors of the game, which are the Alameda County Library Foundation, Round Table Pizza, and the San Francisco Giants.

"We look forward to having lots of kids come down and play. We can help them find good books to read and parents will definitely want to pick up brochures for our programs," stated Janssen. The Library's Kid Power program with Jr. High and Middle School kids brings many volunteers to the summer reading game. These students help participants sign up and play the game. The number of helpers the Library receives fluctuates with the number of participants. Usually, 325 - 350 students throughout all library branches volunteer to work with the children. A special website for this summer's game is in the process of being designed and will be up and running shortly. For now, www.aclibrary.org has information on the summer reading game and other special events such as storytellers, puppet shows, and musicians. Summer is always a great opportunity for kids to get acquainted with their local library, especially if it includes some free prizes!

 
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