More than 3,700 Park Ridge Library patrons registered for this year’s Summer Reading Club, a record number of participants, according to the Library’s programming team. Of those, 2,039 completed their goals for the summer. While more than 2,500 of them were children participating the Summer Reading Club, 771 were adults signed up for the Adult Summer Reading Club, which was a 45 percent increase over last year.
Adult Programming Librarian Sarah Vessalo theorizes that the increase in adult participation could be attributed to a new online registration system, Beanstack, which works through the Library’s website.
“Beanstack encourages whole families to sign up and read together, so we’re looping in more adults who hadn’t participated – or didn’t think they could participate – before,” Vessalo said. Adults registering a child were able to register themselves at the same time.
“It also includes people who really take advantage of our ‘virtual library,’” Vessalo noted, pointing out that the Library’s offerings of apps like Libby and Axis360, which allow patrons to download ebooks and audiobooks, may contribute to the increase. “Patrons can sign up and do the whole club without ever coming in -- until it’s time to pick up a prize!” This year’s prize for completing the required four books, or reading for 12 hours, was a tote bag. The tote bags are donated by the Friends of the Park Ridge Library.
The Library’s Summer Reading Clubs for children and teens also saw an increase in participants, with more than 1,800 of them completing the goal. Kids from birth to sixth grade were challenged to read at least 20 days, while teens from grades 6 through 12 could read four books or 30 days. Kids who reached their reading goals received a prize book, chances to win grand prizes, and coupons generously donated by local businesses. Teens who reached their reading goals received a prize book and chances to win grand prizes. Prize books and grand prizes were generously donated by the Friends of the Library and local businesses.
The reading clubs ran from June 5 through August 18. The Library’s Winter Reading Club, which is also offered to both kids and adults, will be held January 2 through February 29, 2020.
Why Goals Matter
Reading with a goal in mind can improve adults’ reading habits. In 2011 and 2012, Donalyn Miller, a reading ambassador with Scholastic Corporation and the author of two books about reading habits, conducted a survey of adult readers’ practices, trying to figure out what keeps people reading when they no longer have the structural support of having to read for school. One of the key things she found was that “the only difference between a nonreader and a reader is that a reader has a plan for future reading and a nonreader does not,” she told The Atlantic magazine in a June 2019 article on reading habits.
For children and teens, the benefits are also proven. National research from Dominican University in River Forest finds that students who participate in public library summer reading programs scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those who did not participate.