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Summer reading program kicks off for library system

By Staff | Jun 2, 2020

Through the Lee County Library System, the Captiva Memorial Library is offering children, teens and adults fun activities and an opportunity to win prizes during the annual Summer Reading Program.

On June 1, registration opened for the countywide all-ages initiative, which consists of a completely online program this year – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – that encourages participants to explore their imagination through reading and learning adventures. The initiative will run through Aug. 1.

“The idea behind the Summer Reading Program is that it’s really helpful to prevent ‘summer slide,'” Lee County Library System Youth Services Coordinator Amy-Jane McWilliam said.

She explained that studies have shown when children do not read or participate in reading-related activities in the summertime, they actually lose some learning gains from the past school year.

“It’s meant to spark curiosity and encourage reading through fun programming and activities that inspire children to pick up a book and read about something they’re interested in,” McWilliam said of the program.

This year’s theme is “Imagine Your Story.”

“We’re hoping kids will be inspired to look at their own story,” she said, explaining that the activities could entail talking to one’s family or imaging their own future. “It’s fairytales and folklore, but it’s also discovering what their story is.”

Those interested in participating can register online and log their activity through the Website or the READsquared mobile app; families with multiple members can easily sign up under one account. All age groups gain points by taking part in missions or by logging their reading. Age-appropriate weekly missions encourage creativity, imagination, activity and exploration themed on a variety of interests.

The annual program normally includes activities at the libraries.

“We had to switch gears and be proactive and think about what we would be able to offer, to be able to provide to the community with the type of programming during the summer that they’re accustomed to,” McWilliam said, referring to the impact of COVID-19. “This year, our programming is all online.”

The program incorporates a variety of educational activities and reading challenges.

“Despite this being an online program, many many of the activities can be done offline and screen-free,” she said, noting that the library system understands families want to unplug during the summer.

There are four age categories for participants: pre-K, kids, teens and adults.

The pre-kindergarten programming focuses on activities like singing songs and building with blocks, which encourages early literacy skill development. There is also an online storytime every week.

“We offer early literacy tips for parents, as well,” McWilliam said.

The kids programming features different types of categories to choose from.

“They can build, create art, go and be active,” she said.

The library system also teamed up with community and county partners, like the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Sea School, Fort Myers Miracle, LeeTran, Solid Waste and more.

“So kids are encouraged to learn about their community,” McWilliam said.

Unique to the teens programming is activities centered around getting the family together.

“For teens, we really thought about what are the types of programs that we offer inside of the libraries that the teens really really love, and we included those as missions,” she said, citing game night and three-ingredient challenges as examples. “These are things they can do with their siblings and family.”

The library also partnered with Page Turner Adventures to offer virtual programs for ages 6 up to middle school-aged on Monday through Friday, such as crafts, author talks and performances.

“We’re excited about that,” McWilliam said.

Adults can take part by logging their reading time, but there are also missions set up for them, including developing a hurricane plan or visiting county organizations like Lee Elections.

“It highlights some of the great resources the county offers,” she said.

They can also take part in Adult Bingo. The challenge encourages the use of the library’s resources, then rewards participants’ love of reading and learning. Participants earn points and unlock games and badges as they progress through the program, with numerous chances to earn prizes along the way.

The following prizes are up for grabs this summer:


Participants who earn 1,000 points are automatically entered to win the grand prize drawings for their age categories, and each additional 100 points earned increases the participant’s odds of winning.

– Pre-K: Little Tikes Playhouse

– Kids: Nintendo Switch

– Teens: Oculus Go VR

– Adults: Kindle Fire HD 10 with Alexa

There is one systemwide grand prize per age group.


Participants who earn at least 500 points are automatically entered to win the branch basket for their age group, and each additional 100 points earned increases the participant’s odds of winning.

– Pre-K: Early literacy basket filled with books and storytime props

– Kids: Basket that includes popular books and a Steve Spangler Science Kit

– Teens: Book basket that includes popular titles and a Sphero mini robot

– Adults: Canvas tote bag filled with giveaways and popular titles, including an autographed copy of “The Deserter” by Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille

There is one prize per age category per library branch.

In addition, systemwide prize drawings for book bags filled with books and other goodies will be held at random upon completion of each 100 point badge level in the reading program. Additional branch and grand prize drawings will be held for participants meeting certain point thresholds in that program.

“We wanted to offer an exciting program that encourages people to participate,” McWilliam said.

Free activity books are also available for families that wish to unplug for the summer or would like an additional reading challenge. Copies of the activity booklet can be printed from the library Website.

“They can still participate in the reading program,” she said.

The public is encouraged to sign up and take part.

“The programs are fun and they meet the needs of many people,” McWilliam said. “If you’re not a reader, you may be interested in some of the activities. If you want to read all summer and not participate in the activities, you can do that.”

“It’s a very flexible program,” she added. “There’s something for everyone.”

The READsquared app is available for Apple IOS and Android.

For more information or to register, visit www.leelibrary.net/summer.