17Cumberland County Public Libraries and Fort Bragg’s Throckmorton Library have begun their summer reading programs.
Both programs offer a fun opportunity for every family member to dive into a book during the hot summer months ahead. Using READsquared, an easy-to-download app, participants can track their progress and find games, challenges and activities to help make reading a pleasure, not a chore.

Cumberland County Libraries will also have reading records at each branch or available for download on their website. Throckmorton Libary will use its app, https://jlthrockmorton.beanstack.com/reader365, to track reader progress.

Participants can win prizes by reading books or attending or watching programs at the library. Prizes range from exclusive limited-edition t-shirts, books and gift cards to an annual family membership to the North Carolina Aquarium. Readers can unlock rewards from the program with as few as five logged hours of reading time.

Summer reading programs are not a modern concept and have encouraged children to read throughout the year as early as the 1890s.
Though the goal is the same, methods and certain program elements have evolved with time, technology and the target audience’s interests.

“The emphasis of summer reading – getting kids and their families to read in the summer months – has been around as long as the program,” Faith B. Phillips, director of Cumberland County Library, told Up & Coming Weekly.

“However, elements of the program have evolved as technology and interests have changed. For example, we now have apps that allow customers to log their reading minutes. We also include listening to audiobooks and reading e-materials for the program. There are many ways for folks to engage with a text, and we want to be inclusive of as many as possible.”

As children, teens and adults become ever more dependent on screens, and their phones, the importance of reading and its benefits to cognitive development and learning are at the forefront of creating these programs.

“Reading will always be a skill that humans need,” said Carla Brooks, division manager for programs. “By reading through the summer, kids and teens can prevent the summer slide —a decline in their achievement gains during the previous school year. Studies have shown that students who read through the summer make a better transition back to school in the fall and have higher reading performance.”
Phillips, whose first favorite book was "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown, hopes the program creates life-long readers.

“Ultimately, I hope that summer reading cultivates a love of reading in every person. I hope that the programs provide opportunities for community members to learn new skills and facts. And that both the reading and the programs bring laughter, fun, and joy to our citizens,” she said.

Brown hopes the program helps participants gain more confidence in reading, noting the impact "The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin made on her as a young reader.

“[That book] made a huge impression on me as a child. I even started writing my own book after reading it. I loved how the author developed the characters and let me, as the reader, get to know them as if they lived in my hometown.”
Natasha Dass-Ford, chief librarian at Throckmorton Libary, who loved Cinderella as a child, hopes the Summer Reading Program encourages a love of nature and a love for reading.

“This year’s theme for the Summer Reading Challenge is ‘Beyond the Beaten Path.’ In keeping with that theme, Throckmorton is offering a variety of outdoor activities and story times about camping. We hope to promote reading as a fun activity incorporating crafts and outdoor events such as kite flying, star gazing and bird watching.”

With eight branches, both Brooks and Phillips feel Cumberland County Library has a book for everyone inside their doors to unlock an Ocean of Possibilities.

“There are so many good books available to all ages,” Brooks said. “I encourage customers to come in and talk with one of our library staff members to help them find some good books tailored to their preferences. Adults can use our online BookMatch service for a list of personalized reading recommendations.”

Cumberland County Public Library’s Oceans of Possibilities program will continue until August 15 at all Cumberland County Library locations.

Cumberland County Public Library’s Oceans of Possibilities program will conclude on July 31.

To view a Cumberland County Branch Locations list or download a reading log, visit their website at https://www.cumberlandcountync.gov/departments/library-group/library.
READSquared can be accessed at ccplnc.readsquared.com.
To learn more about Throckmorton’s Summer Reading Challenge, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/summer-reading-program.

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