With programs for kids and teens, there's no reason not to read this summer

There’s something at Wilsonville’s public library to entice and inspire every child in the city — from birth on up to those “kids” who will be starting their senior year at the high school this fall.

“We have three different but similar programs in our library,” Wilsonville’s youth services librarian, Steven Engelfried, said. “We have a kid’s summer reading program. Anyone can sign up, up to sixth grade. We ask the kids to try to read for at least 20 minutes a day, for at least 20 days.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Wilsonville student Emily Stott will be going into the fifth grade this fall at Boones Ferry Primary. She is a longtime participant in the Wilsonville Librarys summer reading program and visits the library every week. 'Oh yeah, I do it every year,' she said. The Fizz Boom Read program is tailored to readers of all levels, from beginners to proficient page-turners. Kids can read on their own, and it’s OK if someone else is reading aloud to them. They don’t even need to have a library card, although gaining one is easy and free for residents of Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties. The only hard-and-fast rule is that kids must complete the challenge by Aug. 30.

“We don’t put any restrictions on what they read,” Engelfried said. “Ebooks, we’ll even count audio books, if that’s how they get their literature. We’re really just trying to get them a little extra energy and incentive to read this summer.”

That’s where the prizes come in. Kids who complete the reading challenge will receive a free book and numerous other prizes, including a certificate and coupons for free and discounted items from local businesses. Prizes and events are supported through donations from Wilsonville’s Friends of the Library, the Rotary Club and the business community as well as the Fred Meyer Foundation.

Even if reading is not a kid’s activity of choice, they might find a reason to visit the library. Unlike most libraries, Wilsonville’s also offers a summer science program, complete with prizes.

“For that, we ask them to do a total of 10 science explorations over the summer,” Engelfried said. “Those could be any sort of science-related activity, from building a chemical volcano with baking soda and vinegar to taking a nature walk or looking under a rock and seeing what’s there. We have a couple of guidebooks to help with suggestions.”

Reading — or science. It’s a tough choice, but don’t worry if you can’t decide.

“We hope they will do both,” Engelfried said.

This will be the fifth year of offering a summer science program, he said, and in the past, up to 45 percent of kids who participate in the reading program also have done the science. Kids who complete both receive both prize packages. They’ll be eligible for two grand prizes, too. One winner will be drawn from the reading program to win a yearlong family membership to the zoo. One science program participant will win a year’s pass to OMSI.

Teens who are looking for a way to stay busy and hang out with friends will find plenty of opportunities. In addition to the 20 minutes for 20 days reading challenge, students entering grades 6 through 12 have a range of activities designed just for them. Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers can choose from movie night, game night, a duct tape craft event and, of course, a water fight. Or, since they are free, they can choose to attend all of them.

Kids can enter to win the grand prize, a $50 gift card to Powell’s Books, in addition to smaller gift cards to local or Portland stores. To qualify for weekly drawings, they need to fill out a slip with information about a book they recently read.

“The idea is they’ll recommend books,” Engelfried said. “We select some of them and put them with the books around the library, so people can see what kids are reading.”

Visit the library website at to see the full list of summertime events. Younger kids can attend Summer Fun Shows on Thursdays at the library. Presenters include Tears of Joy Puppet Theater, Mad Science, Rhys Thomas and Border Collies International, Brad Clark and Richard Richey the Reptile Man.

Families are invited to bring a picnic lunch for movies matinees Fridays at noon. And Mad Science will offer hands-on classes for kids entering grades 1 through 5 in August; the classes are free but signup is required.

No matter what enticement works for the children you know, Wilsonville’s librarians hope to see them this summer.

“Reading is just such a great way to broaden your world,” Engelfried said. “It provokes thought and discussion. We just think that lives are richer when kids and families read.”

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
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