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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Library summer reading programs can lead to prizes

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Summer means summer camps, playing outside with friends, camping, swimming, vacations and reading. Yes, reading.

As a way to encourage kids to keep reading over the summer, local libraries are urging kids to sign up for summer reading programs for a chance to win prizes. Some of the summer reading programs are also open to adults, which means that the whole family can participate in tracking their reading time over the summer.

Keeping reading skills fresh over the summer is key, particularly for younger students, Spokane County Library District Public Services Manager Gwendolyn Haley said. If students don’t read, they lose some of their literacy skills.

“It’s called the summer slide, and it’s not as fun as it sounds,” she said. “It’s actually not a good thing.”

The SCLD’s summer program, called “Read Beyond the Beaten Path,” is for adults and children. It encourages people to read 600 minutes over six weeks, an average of 20 minutes a day.

“The daily habit of reading is our goal,” Haley said. “It kind of gets the whole family engaged with the idea of reading over the summer.”

The district tracks minutes spent reading rather than the number of books read so that kids of all reading levels have the chance to tally enough minutes to win a prize. A student comfortable with more advanced content can tackle a large book that takes hours to read or several smaller books.

“It allows kids to read whatever they want,” Haley said.

While summer reading programs have traditionally been for kids, the library district added adults a few years ago when it switched to a new computer software called Beanstack. It was something that patrons had been asking for.

“We’ve had adults asking for years about a summer reading program,” she said. “Everybody deserves a chance to track their minutes and earn their badges.”

Those interested in signing up for the program can visit There is also an app that can be downloaded that includes a built-in timer to easily track how long someone has been reading.

“The app is really pretty slick,” Hayley said.

Everyone who participates in the reading program will be entered to win prizes. The grand prize is a camping kit that includes a pop-up tent, sleeping bags and a propane stove. Each of the district’s 11 libraries will give away an adventure pack that includes binoculars, a Discover pass that allows access to state parks, a backpack and a copy of “100 Hikes in the Inland Northwest” by former Spokesman-Review outdoors editor Rich Landers.

“The more you read, the better your chances,” Haley said.

Other libraries are following suit with their own summer reading programs. Spokane Public Libraries is asking kids under the age of 18 to track their summer reading. Kids who read at least 15 hours over the summer will be given a free book. There are also activities that include a book bingo, a bookmark contest and a summer reading crossword. Visit for more information and to sign up.

The Coeur d’Alene Public Library has a summer reading program built around the theme “Forest of Possibilities.” There are punch cards and online book reports for kids and adults. People who complete a punch card tracking the number of books they read will receive a free book and those who submit a book report will be entered into a prize drawing at the end of the summer.

Adults receive a free book for every four books they read and teens ages 13-19 will get a free book for every four books they read and review. Children ages 5-12 will be asked to track the time they spend read ing and badges, prizes and free books will be given out based on the number of hours spent reading over the summer.

For information or to sign up, visit