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July 9, 2008 > Summer Reading at the Libraries

Summer Reading at the Libraries

By Aditya Anand

It is summertime in the suburbs, which roughly equates to heat, free time, and, as always, staring jaw-dropped at sky-rocketing fuel prices. Although the most pressing of these issues may seem to be sticker shock at the pump, free time is just as significant a concern for children, adolescents, and adults alike. According to the National Center for Education Statistics and sources from The Week, enrollment in school and college is higher than before, but Americans' aptitude in general knowledge is experiencing a downward spiral. This trend seems to be chronologically correlated with the substitution of video game and computer activities for reading and extracurricular learning during free time.

To counter this growing trend, enjoyable and intellectually stimulating activities may provide an answer. While such activities may seem to be hard to find for parents and uninteresting to students, there are a variety of opportunities available at the public library, opportunities for learning, self-development, and reading during the summer.

Alameda County's library system will host an assortment of Summer Reading games for both adults and children. These activities will take place at various Alameda County Library branches in the Tri-City Area, including Centerville, Fremont Main, Irvington, Newark, Niles, and Union City Libraries.

"Catch the Reading Bug", a new statewide summer reading game, is one of the activities sponsored by Alameda County Library. A game for children of all ages, "Catch the Reading Bug" is played on a bingo-inspired, entomologically-informative game board. For every half hour of reading, each child gets to spin and stamp a square on their board. First prizes are given for each row or column that is completely stamped, and blackout prizes are given for a fully stamped board. Game boards can be picked up at an Alameda County Library branch from now until August 18, and stamping will continue until the end of summer. Last year 20,000 children participated through Alameda County Library, and this year more are expected. To learn more about "Catch the Reading Bug", please log on to

In addition to games for children, the library system has programs designed for the adolescent age group. Middle school students from grades 6 to 8 can volunteer with the Kid Power program at the libraries. This program gives students the opportunity to assist younger children with summer reading and craft activities. Volunteering with Kid Power is a positive way for students to help kids in the community, and also gain work experience.

The adult summer reading game, titled "Timeless Reads," lasts from June to August 16. To play, participants 18 years or older must read a book they believe has stood the test of time. The book need not be a "classic" in the traditional sense, but rather a book that can be read over and over, and can be strongly recommended. Readers fill out an entry form for each book read, and briefly describe why each book should be considered timeless. One completed entry form is drawn each week, and the winner receives a $15 gift certificate. Adult summer reading game information can be found at

Hayward Public Library will also host the "Catch the Reading Bug" game for children. For older readers, the Hayward libraries have several book discussion groups. Each discussion group, from the African-American Author's Book Club to the Mystery Novels by Women Discussion Group, covers a different genre. More information on the Hayward book clubs can be found at the library website. Go to and click on all the Hayward links until you can click on "Library."

The Santa Clara County libraries have a range of summer reading activities, as well. The Milpitas branch will also host "Catch the Reading Bug" for children during the summer. Participants at the Milpitas library will be able to keep track of the books they read in an online log. Certificates and prizes will be awarded on August 7, during a punch and cookies reception. Go to, look for the reading bug picture, and click on "kids."

Along with "Catch the Reading Bug", Milpitas library will sponsor a Teen Summer Reading Club, beginning on June 14. For the reading club, adolescents will read five books, and fill out two review cards for a chance at a grand prize drawing.

Milpitas Library's adult summer reading program titled "Authors, Books, & Conversation" varies slightly from the adult reading program through the Alameda County Library system. Participants in this program can create reading logs, share book reviews, meet authors and win prizes. More information regarding the program and a list of visiting authors are available on the library website. Go to and click on "Adults."

This summer, put aside the remote and the car keys, settle down at your favorite relaxing location and pick up a new novel. Take to the high seas with Ishmael and Ahab, sail a raft down the Mississippi with Huck and Jim, discover the ironic similarities between happy families with Anna Karenina, find forbidden love at Thrushcross Grange, and experience - if you have not already - the magic of J.K. Rowling. Share your timeless classics, catch the reading bug, and step into the wonderful world of literature at your local library.

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