The local programs reach thousands of Washington County youths each summer.

COURTESY: BEAVERTON CITY LIBRARY - Ventriloquist Vicki Gasko Green performed at the Beaverton City Library this summer as part of the library's summer reading program. Other Washington County libraries held similar events.

The libraries of Washington County Cooperative Library Services ended their summer reading programs, which served kids, teens and adults, at the end of August.

As the Times reported in July, the libraries' summer reading programs, which include personal goal-setting and participation rewards, aim to help prevent the "summer slide," the regression in reading skills that can happen to students over summer break.

At Tigard Public Library, 2,550 kids and 567 teens signed up. And 1,241 teens and 263 kids finished, making for what youth services supervisor Amber Bell called a "respectable 48 percent return rate."

The Tigard-Tualatin School District includes about 12,300 students, meaning that the Tigard Public Library alone reached the equivalent of one quarter of the district's population. (The district also is served by the Tualatin Public Library, as well as other Washington County libraries.)

"The summer reading program is such a great opportunity to bolster kids' enthusiasm for reading," Bell said.

The Tigard Public Library raised interest for summer reading by holding events aimed at different age groups. These included puppet shows, a light-up art program and a Super Smash Bros video game tournament for teens.

Beaverton City Library also held events to draw potential summer readers in, including a viewing of the eclipse, a presentation by ReWild Portland on primitive fire-making, regular coding workshops and a pizza taste-off.

"We had a lot of really fun, successful events this summer," said Ian Duncanson, the library's young adult librarian.

The sign-up and completion numbers for Beaverton City Library were about on par with last year's figures. Librarians said 2,104 teens and 5,474 kids registered this year; and 1,258 teens and 3,070 kids turned in their completed reading logs. In order to complete a reading log, a participant had to do at least 15 hours of reading over the summer.

In addition to drawing readers into the library, several Washington County libraries also partnered up with other community organizations for outreach. The Tigard Public Library made weekly visits to different lunch sites operated by the Tigard-Tualatin School District, which provided free meals to kids living in the district this summer.

"We offered games and activities for kids at lunch time," Bell said about the lunch site visits. "We signed families up for summer reading, and gave out prizes to finishers at the end of the summer. Not everyone can make it into the library, so we do what we can to bring summer reading out into the community."

Libraries also incentivized summer reading by providing prizes, which included a voucher for a Portland Trail Blazers ticket and discounted admission to Oaks Amusement Park.

"The finishing prizes like the Blazers ticket and Oaks Amusement Park discount help encourage kids who might feel more hesitant to read, and the free book remains a highlight for finishers," said Bell.

She went on to call the free book "the ultimate reward for reading: more reading."

Blair Stenvick
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