BLACKFOOT– The Blackfoot Library implemented their summer reading program "A Universe of Stories" at the beginning of June. The participants had to keep track of their reading through logs and could even get entries for prizes after completing tasks. The program began registering the first week in June. Within a week or two they had over 700 children registered to read this summer.

Angela Hulse and Director Lisa Harral put together the program in such a way that different levels of reading prowess could be documented and recorded. They had to read nine lines to earn a prize and for every extra nine lines they read they received two tickets. 

The theme this year was tailored to space and space travel. A Universe of Stories created the idea that there are worlds waiting for the reader, all they have to do is pick out the book. On their Facebook page the library had extra entries for answers to their space questions. There were numerous entries submitted by children. It was impressive to see how much the children learned.

Parents helped their children fill out the reading charts, and parents judged whether it was minutes, books read, or some other means before it could be recorded. Even if the children were not readers, there were parents who could come in with their younger children with word scrambles, craft activities, word finds, recipes, and home creations to earn prizes. When the children do not read independently they were still given the opportunity to participate and get excited about reading. 

The main goal of the program was to get children reading and according to Hulse, "They read lots!" At the end of the program the tickets each chid earned was placed into a drawing to win one of twelve baskets. These baskets weren't just any little trinket, the baskets were full of goodies for the winners and even a commemorative trophy to show what they accomplished. One child was proud of the fact that he read over 50 books. And for any young child that is definitely a feat. The twelve winners of the baskets are: Bella Yancey, Gracie Steffler, Graham Shawver, Mercedes Ogden, Malea Nyman, Adam Moss, Jacob Monson, Braxton Micklesen, Sarah Kent, Ellie Harns, Cason Chappell, and Carrie Smith.

Programs of this nature are important to the future skills of school-age children. Children who do not read during the summer or simply avoid reading, will fall behind in their skills and have trouble catching up. A poor reader will only get better if they continue reading. Valerie Gardner, of V&E Foundation, states, "Children who are pumped up and excited about reading will become better readers. When a poor reader is singled out, there is good chance they will continue to hate reading." This is why these programs are so important. They not only provide children the chance to read books they want to read, but it also gives them a chance to be rewarded for how well they do. Parents have seen an upswing in childhood reading when their children are positively engaged in reading books. 

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