While many adults find time for summer reading, the habit can fall right off a child’s list of priorities during pool season.
It’s part of the cause of the famed ’summer slide’ — when skills learned during the school year slip backwards.
That’s why Natasha Bereczky, children’s program director at the Niagara-on-the-Lake public library, came up with the Ultimate Summer Reading Challenge, which aims to make books fun and keep kids’ “minds on.”
“I wanted to create something fun, compelling, and broader than just reading,” said Bereczky, who is also an undergrad at Brock University’s teachers’ college.
“The goal is to keep kids learning in a variety of ways, practicing things consciously and with awareness.”
Bereczky has created “passports” full of age-appropriate challenges — a junior passport for kids ages three to six, and senior passport for kids aged six to 12. Some of the challenges overlap, and include categories such a health, community, multicultural, science and, of course, reading.
Tasks include learning to say hello in a new language; trying a new food; going technology-free for 24 hours; using an atlas to find a good vacation spot; and picking up five pieces of garbage at a local park.
Bereczky said she’s come up with around 100 ideas to get kids thinking and learning — and has left two spaces in each category for kids to add their own activity.
Some of the challenge suggestions should be a hit with parents, including one to floss your teeth five days in a row and another to help your parents with the dishes.
And then there’s the “make a poem about a potato” challenge, which could be fun for all ages.
The program began on July 3 and runs until August 24.
Participants will check off challenges in their passports and head to the library to share their accomplishments with Bereczky on Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The response has already been great, Bereczky said, and there’s always room for more participants.
So far she has been enjoying the feedback — one child tried eating mushrooms for the first time and another was determined to go a full day without using an iPad, and she’s excited to see where things might lead, she said.
Parents can register their kids for the challenge on the library’s website at notlpubliclibrary.org, then pop by the library to collect the passports in person.