Allegan County News & Union Enterprise

Summer reading programs start at local libraries

Otsego Library assistant director Diane DeVries prepares to help children sign-up for the summer reading program. (Photo provided)

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor

Students who attend Otsego Public Schools and Plainwell Community Schools are officially on summer break.
And that, among other things, means it’s time once again for the annual summer reading programs at the local libraries.
The programs at Otsego Public Library and Ransom District Library are open to children ages newborn through high school with both utilizing the theme “Oceans of Possibilities.”
Sign-up at Ransom began on Wednesday, June 8, with a kickoff event on Friday, June 10.
Otsego Library began its sign-ups on Monday, June 13, and will host its Outstanding Ocean Kickoff Event on Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to noon.
“We’re so excited to be able to offer our reading program to children again this year,” Otsego Library assistant director Diane DeVries said.
The kickoff event in Otsego is scheduled to feature games, activities, bubbles, slushies and popcorn. Members of the Otsego Fire Department will also be on hand, with children able to spray water.
Sign-ups for Otsego’s summer program continue until Saturday, July 9. The program runs through Saturday, July 30.
As part of the reading program, children from newborn through elementary school are required to read a minimum for 20 days, while middle school and high school students must read four books. Those who meet these requirements will be entered to win prizes, including three grand prizes.
The top grand prize is a $300 Meijer gift card and a blow-up shark; the second grand prize is a $200 Meijer gift card and a blow-up octopus; and the third grand prize is a $100 gift card and a blowup sea horse.
In addition to the grand prizes, there are eight other prizes available for the newborn-through-elementary group and four prizes available for the middle school and high school students.
“The summer reading program has become a staple for us and we do it for two main reasons,” DeVries said. “The first reason is to help kids continue to read throughout the summer so when they get back to school in the fall they haven’t lost any of their previous gains.
“But the biggest reason is we want kids to fall in love with reading. With a program like this, kids can pick whatever books they want and there are incentives with the prizes. And after participating, most kids realize they really enjoy reading.”
Last year, a total of 800 children—600 in the younger group and 200 in the older—participated with nearly 70 percent completing the program at Otsego Library. This year, nearly 100 children signed up the first morning of registration alone.
“Last year was a fun year and we’re excited about another great year,” DeVries said.
In addition to the reading program itself, Otsego Library is hosting weekly programs. A visit from magician Jim Merrill—who will be teaching about scuba diving—starts those programs on Tuesday, June 21.
Ransom Library assistant director Erin Marsh visited students at the three elementary schools in Plainwell to tell students about her library’s summer reading program.
“After the first week, we have had about 500 children and teens register for the summer reading program,” Marsh said. “It’s popularity is on track to surge to pre-pandemic levels and this is in large part due to the generosity of the Plainwell elementary schools, who opened their doors to me so I could visit with each grade level and share highlights of the program to help generate enthusiasm.
“It’s a great partnership; they open their doors to me, then we at the library encourage children to read during the summer, which aids in preventing the learning slide that makes it harder to begin schoolwork in the fall.”
At its kickoff pirate party, Ransom gave away close to 200 pirate hats, eye patches and inflatable swords.
“The Friends of Ransom Library gave us an especially generous donation this year to support the summer’s activities, and they made all of the pirate swag possible,” Marsh said.
Prizes for the younger children in the Ransom program include a Lego fish tank building set, a remote control whale shark water toy and Aqualin, a two-player board game. For the older children, prizes include gift cards of varying amounts to Amazon, Steam, Hot Topic, Old Navy and Fortress of Solitude.
There are several layers to this year’s youth reading program: the “Read 5 Books Challenge,” complete a bingo board, attend events and accomplish several missions to earn “pirate doubloons,” which can be redeemed for special prizes.
The program comes in two versions: the paper version, which can be picked up at the library, and the online option, which can be used on computers, tablets and phones.
For more information about the summer reading programs, visit Otsego Library at and Ransom Library at

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