summerWhen I was a kid the highlight of my summer was always the summer reading program.  Yes, my family went on vacation.  Often to really cool places.  Yes, I did things with friends.  But around April I anxiously awaited the unveiling of that years theme.

Would we be doing a Reading Roundup (cowboy theme)?  A Calling All Knights (Medieval theme)?  What would be the prizes?  I was never concerned about the number of books required.  Whether it was the 20 needed to get the elementary school top prize or the 40 needed for the junior high prize, I knew I could breeze through them.  Entire afternoons and evenings were passed in the happy daze of reading everything from Alcott’s Eight Cousins to The Secret Sign by Gladys Malvern or Knight’s Fee by Rosemary Sutcliffe.  If I miss anything about not having three months off every year it is this – the pleasure to simply spend eight hours a day indulging in my favorite past time.

Some of my favorite books were found through my diligent participation in this program.  When I was younger, there were the Billy and Blaze books by C.W. Anderson and the Raggedy Ann and Andy books written by Johnny Gruelle.   The Black Stallion and Island Stallion books by Walter Farley.  All the Dana Girls and Nancy Drew Mysteries.  And Journey for a Princess by the wonderful Margaret Leighton.

That is why when we did the Reading Challenge on the AAR message boards I was so excited.  At last a taste of the bygone era of the summer reading program!  While it was far more modest (9 in 09), it was exactly what I could manage.  And I loved the challenge of reading books outside my normal comfort zone.  Not to add that it had the bonus of introducing me to a genre of books (Inspirationals) which I had snubbed for many, many a year.  I joined the 10 in 10 Reading Challenge this year and whipped through it so great was my glee at having a reading program available to me once more.  If you haven’t tried it, I really urge you to do so.  Like me, you may just discover a whole new reading experience waiting for you.

Then this year my library sent me absolutely over the moon by doing an adult summer reading program!   “Water Your Mind” is the theme, appropriate since I live in an area of avid lawn drenchers.  I am pretty sure some retiree will kick my butt and get the top prize.  I know of a local lady who reads ten books a week.  Ten!  I won’t have that kind of time if I break a leg (I toyed with the idea but really, that’s a bit too obsessive even for me, but it will be fun to fill the slips out and be eligible for the weekly drawing just the same.  And who knows, if I work hard maybe I’ll be eligible for one of the t-shirts!

So what about the rest of you?  Did you enjoy doing the summer reading programs when you were a kid? What did you like most about it?  Do you have any special book memories from that era?   Are your libraries doing the adult summer program?  Or are you doing the challenge here at AAR?  Or, on the other side of the fence, do programs and challenges cramp your style?

– Maggie Boyd

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