Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Reading Program: It IS all about the prize.


Yes, that is what draws me.

Well, that and the opportunity for a quick adventure, a chance to chuckle or cry or laugh out loud. Perhaps to cringe and scare myself silly while hiding under the covers.

It isn't just the prizes (o.k. mostly it is, because who doesn't love to win a prize?), it is the potential to become completely enveloped - to become thoroughly absorbed in a story as I hurtle toward the end - that last page of the book...

AND one more chance to win!

The summer reading program has landed at the library. I'm all gooseflesh and giddy-got-ants-in-my-pants excited over it.

When my children were younger we'd trot down to our local library branch to sign up the day the program started. My kids used to love setting the timer and reading the required number of minutes that would allow them to color in one more space on their reading tracker. Once they reached a milestone, we'd race back to the library so they could stick their hands into the prize box and fish for a new treasure.

The prizes were cheap toys, much like what you'd get after exchanging a bazillion Chuck E. Cheese tickets. You know, where you've spent $30 on tokens for your kid to play games and win a prize worth about ten cents and which will promptly break the second they breathe on it? Yeah, that one.

While I DO realize the goal of the summer reading program isn't about prizes and that reading should be something a child does without having to be bribed...let's face it, prizes are fun.

A few years ago the library got smart and offered a teen reading program. While I loved the cutesy drawings on the reading progress 'map', it really was geared toward younger children. The teen program had its own tracking chart and different prizes, shedding the Chuck E. Cheese taint. My son loved it...at least that year.

Unfortunately, several years ago my children fell out of love with the summer reading program -  the prizes were just not enough to lure them in anymore.

Then the library got REALLY smart.

Adult Summer Reading Program. WITH PRIZES!

Sha-ZAM, baby!

Right, right...it isn't about the prizes. But then again, it SOOO is!

The program is simple: read a book, fill out a review sheet and then turn it in for a chance to win a weekly prize.

My first year doing it I won a Barnes and Noble gift card! The second year? I don't remember, but I won something.

And then...I sort of forgot about it.

Until yesterday when I went to the local branch to find a movie I wanted to see again.

{Warning: Many of the movies made in the 80's were crap. Just crap. So, fair warning when going back to watch something that your 80's self loved...because your 2012 self is going to say, "Are you kidding me? I loved this?" You've been warned.}

There, underneath the rainbow, bathed in haloed light accentuated with the sound of angels, was the single sheet of magic...much like Charlie's golden ticket...the:

Adult Summer Reading Book Review Form

Reading a book and then filling out the above mentioned form, as many times as I can until July 31st, could lead to the following riches:

  • Flexible Book Light
  • Starbucks Gift Card®
  • Re-usable book bags with goodies
  • Grand Prize: Kindle Fire
{sound of angels singing}


How can I resist. I mean, I already have two book lights...but what if they both burn out simultaneously? What would I do then? And y'all know how much I love coffee. One can ALWAYS use more coffee. And San Jose has a ban on plastic bags, so I will ALWAYS need more re-usable bags...right? And...the grand prize...I mean, come on...like you could resist a shot at that. Pfft...no, you couldn't.

I don't want to win all of these items, that would just be greedy. I'm all about sharing and love and compassion and shit. I'd be perfectly happy to win just the grand prize...and maybe the Starbucks gift card (not necessarily in that order). I think that would be perfectly neighborly of me.

I can't explain what it is about the reading program that makes me love it like I do. It sounds silly, I know, but I'm spending my days hurtling toward a tomorrow that has already been multiplied by a   considerable number of yesterdays (meaning, I'm getting older by the second), so I guess participanting in this program brings out the kid in me. That kid who might barely be able to peek over the prize counter at Chuck E. Cheese. That kid who covets the sticky hand on a string that could be MINE in exchange for just 30 of those glorious tickets spit from the ski-ball machine.

The real prize, of course, is my experience with whatever book I'm reading...allowing it to take me where ever I want to go. It's like a treasure hunt, each book full of clues leading me closer to some bounty. It just so happens that there may be a REAL prize at the end.

It is something I just can't resist.

Well, I'm never going to win it by sitting here typing.

Happy Summer!

Read on!


  1. Jealous I am! I want a library! (and prizes too)

    1. Not having access to a library is a crime against humanity!