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Jun. 22, 2021 | Tuesday
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NOTL library summer program is one for the books
Kasia Dupuis reads Art's Supplies by Chris Tougas to the kids in the park. From 2019 (Brittany Carter)

Keeping kids reading this summer is a priority for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library. 

Online registration for this year’s Summer Reading Program opens June 18. All are welcome to read, learn and connect with the library. 

The library will offer daily online activities, kits for curbside pickup, virtual book buddies and an online summer camp, all free. 

Kasia Dupuis, the children’s library service associate, said the focus while revamping the children’s summer programs at the library was not just about filling the hole or patching up what has changed in offerings for those kids normally coming into the library. 

“I’m trying to make it our usual summer reading program just as engaging under the capacity that we are able to operate,” Dupuis said. 

“We have put together a robust and engaging program to keep the learning, reading and connection happening all summer long,” she said in an email. 

Read for Beads, a program started at the library last year, provided an incentive for each book a child read. As they finished books and tracked them in a reading passport, they received beads to add to a necklace.  

Dupuis said the program was very popular, with some children finishing two or three necklaces in the summer of 2019.  

This was “awesome from a library perspective because that means they’re reading in the summer, which is our main goal,” she said.

Read for Beads was supposed to continue this summer, but due to COVID-19 restrictions the program needed to be made accessible without kids coming into the library.  

While trying to determine how this would work, Dupuis said it changed how they will operate the Summer Reading Program for 2020.  

“It developed into, well if they have to come to the library for curbside pickup of their books and their beads, why don’t we include a kit every couple weeks that will have some activities and some resources that they can work from home with,” she said. 

Over the summer, each child who registers for the reading program will receive five kits available for pickup bi-weekly.  

Each kit will contain a book that the child can keep, their Read for Reads that they’ll track in an online reading tracker and some activity packages that will have directions. The library will also post videos online for more direction on the activities.  

She said all the online components have been made child-friendly and accessible so that kids can track their books and engage online safely and independently.  

Last year, the summer reading program had 110 kids registered and Dupuis said the library is hoping to match that or have even more involved. 

The Virtual Micro Bits summer camp evolved from existing programs at the library called Tinker Thinker Thursdays and Code Club. 

Dupuis said a micro bit is, “basically a chip board that is like a little tiny computer. It’s very simple for kids to start understanding coding language and how computers work.” 

NOTL Library staff member Christine Reganti will facilitate the camp through video calls on Zoom, giving kids instruction and projects to work on offline. 

"We're going to miss not seeing all the kids over the summer at the library, because when school's out the library is the place to be,” Dupuis said. 

“We wanted to at least keep that connection open so that there’s some sense of normalcy in summer 2.0.”