When I was a child, I surely read books in school, although I don’t remember any of them. It’s the books I read during the summer that have stayed with me. It was in my childhood summer home on Lambert’s Cove Road where my love of reading took hold, and to be honest, school is where it almost ended. “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry and “The Saturdays” by Elizabeth Enright were a couple of my favorites. So was “The Mummy Market” by Nancy Brellis. I could lose myself in pretty much anything published by Dell Yearling. A bit later, like many girls of my generation, I latched onto Judy Blume, and when I was 11, my mother, who worked in publishing, gave me an advance copy of “Forever” to read that I then circulated through my small but intrigued friend group.
I can’t recall if the libraries back then had summer reading programs, and I sometimes lament that these days the distractions and demands of life means we coax kids to books with incentives when the delights of losing your young self in a great story should be incentive enough.
We are lucky that each town on the Island has a library, and each library has an excellent children’s collection. Children’s librarians are amazing resources who can connect avid, struggling, and middle-of-the-road readers to books they will enjoy and perhaps even remember some 50 years later.
Below is a roundup of the summer reading programs at the Island’s libraries.
From Caitlyn Clark, Oak Bluffs’ children’s and young adult librarian:
The Oak Bluffs Public Library’s summer reading program is using Beanstack again this year. Beanstack is a website that allows readers to log their minutes online — think of it as a virtual paper reading log. If readers log at least 20 minutes of reading each week on Beanstack, then they are automatically entered into that week’s gift card giveaway. Gift cards change each week and include businesses such as Ben and Bill’s, Back Door Donuts, Game Room, Lazy Frog, and more. When readers reach nine hours, they receive this year’s unique T shirt, and are automatically entered into the grand prize drawing: a chance to win a backpack full of a dozen brand-new books selected just for the winner.
The library is also offering monthlong scavenger hunts on Circuit Ave. in Oak Bluffs. Participants can pick up a checklist at the library or on the library’s website, then visit storefront windows on Circuit Ave. to match the items on the checklist. Summer programming also includes several outdoor story walks (July 1, July 15, and August 5) that feature illustrations by Island kindergarten and first grade students. Young adults ages 12 to 18 can sign up to receive the library’s new monthly themed book crates: a box that includes two or three young adult novels and several fun items that go along with the month’s theme. June’s theme is “luminous,” and includes a chili necklace, a custom-designed sticker from an artist on Redbubble, a box of Red Hots candy, and more!
The children’s room is open by appointment. Families and caregivers may call or email the children’s librarian to schedule a 30-minute appointment. Two families may visit the children’s room at the same time, with four people in each party. Walk-ins can be accommodated if time allows. Masks are required inside the library building, and visitors must have either their library card or a photo ID to check out materials.
From Mikaela Lawson, West Tisbury Youth Services and children’s librarian:
We are offering three different options for summer reading this year.
The first is the traditional one, where children can sign up in person, and set their own goal in our composition notebook.
The second is Book Bingo! Here, kids grab a bingo sheet, and as soon as they complete any form of bingo, they bring it back and get their prize.
Last, we are offering an online program as well, in case families don’t feel comfortable coming into the building. Families can sign up through our Beanstack website (westtisburylibrary.beanstack.org), and are eligible for the T shirt prize after reading 10 books on their reading level.
For events, we are hosting monthly outdoor Pinkletink Concerts, biweekly outdoor storytimes, and weekly outdoor crafts and an art class for kids! We also will be continuing our monthly storywalks through the Field Gallery and library gardens. Plus the weekly curbside craft bags!
The protocol for the W.T. children’s room is that families may make an appointment through our website (west tisbury library.org) for a half-hour time slot. Each time slot is for one family at a time, no meet-ups or playdates. There are also no toys available to play with. Masks for anyone 2 and over are mandatory.
From Elyce Retmier, Edgartown coordinator of youth services:
We are having a Tails and Tales–themed summer reading program. Sign up at the library, and get a summer reading kit, which comes with a summer reading T shirt and other goodies. Young readers can keep track of the books they read, and bring logs back to the library to receive a stamp. Collect stamps to earn prizes from DQ, Edgartown Meat and Fish, Edgartown Pizza, and Rosebud Kids.
We will also have programs all summer long, which include a weekly adopt-a-stuffed-animal program, weekly craft tutorials on the lawn, visits from Tony the Pony, kids concerts featuring the Pinkletinks, and storytimes with special guest authors. All of this can be found on our website, edgartownlibrary.org. The children’s room is open by appointment, and we are still offering grab-and-go craft bags daily. We ask that patrons over 2 wear a mask in the building.
In August, I will be reading my book “Henry the Dog with No Tail,” as part of the Tails and Tales — or in this case no tail — celebration. –Kate Feiffer
From Sarah Debettencourt, Chilmark assistant director and youth services librarian:
Chilmark library will offer a virtual program again this summer using the site Beanstack. Youth can track their minutes of reading to earn badges. Participants can pick up a coupon after earning five badges, for either the Chilmark General Store or Menemsha Galley, and once they complete the program, will be rewarded with a T shirt and entry into a raffle for a Bunch of Grapes gift card. Paper copies of the program will be available on request. On Thursdays we’ll continue with Take and Make crafts starting July 1, and every other Saturday starting July 10, we’ll offer STEAM take-home kits.
The Chilmark library is open by appointment, and the link to book appointments can be found on our website: chilmarklibrary.org. Masks are required, and browsing times are limited to 30 minutes.
From Julia Matejcek, Aquinnah library associate:
Aquinnah Public Library will offer our summer reading program for children of all ages starting on July 1. Come by the library to pick up a summer reading T shirt and reading log. Throughout the summer, stop by to tell us about what you are reading, and pick up a coupon for a treat or gift from an Aquinnah establishment. We will also be offering some new outdoor programs this summer — visit our website, aquinnahlibrary.org, to subscribe to our monthly newsletter for updates.
From Emily LaPierre, Vineyard Haven children’s librarian:
There will be a summer reading program sign-up on Friday, July 2, during the Vineyard Haven First Friday event on Main Street outside the library. Visit vhlibrary.org for more information.