Sign-up is now open at for the 2020 Summer Reading Program, and while the annual effort to promote reading promises plenty of books and prizes, it will have a different look than past years.
There will be no in-library events including the featured weekly performers, but there will be virtual Storytimes for young kids, book discussion groups for adults and crafts and activities for all ages from June 1 through July 31. This year’s theme of “Imagine Your Story” highlights fairy tales, fables and make-believe stories.
The coronavirus pandemic may have shortened the summer agenda, but it hasn’t diminished the importance of reading for youths and adults. Libraries use summer reading programs to help stave off the “summer slide” in students’ reading capabilities, library Director Michelle Mears said. And with many local students being out of school since March, the library is making it as easy as possible to register.
Youths from babies to teens and adults can sign up online at rhcl.org/summer or by calling the Belt Branch at 816-232-5479, the Savannah Branch at 816-324-4569 or the Bookmobile at 816-205-7100 to speak to a staff member. In-person registrations will be taken when the library reopens to the public on Tuesday, May 26.
Everyone who registers will be entered into prize drawings for gift baskets and three $100 Walmart gift cards. Participants who reach their reading goals will earn a second entry for the drawings as well as other prizes. Youths will receive a cloth book bag full of activities to do at home when they register.
While youths and families look forward to the many summer events at the library, Mears said, the library opted to cancel all in-person programs to keep everyone safe from possibly spreading the coronavirus in crowds.
“We are very disappointed that we can’t bring the performers to our communities this year,” Mears said. “We want kids to be safe, and we know there could be many parents who might not bring their kids to these events to keep them safe, so we had to weigh those factors and cancel the programs.”
The library will announce online programs on its online calendar at rhcl.org and on Facebook. Some events are already posted while others will be added throughout the summer.