background img

Denver Public Libraries Gearing up for Summer of Reading Program

Jim Ramsey can do it all. He reads in English, Spanish and French, sings and acts out scenes from books. His audience is kids mostly under the age of 5.

Ramsey coordinates a kids’ storytime program at the Ford Warren branch of the Denver Public Library, 2825 High St., which meets Mondays and Fridays during the school year.

In summer, the group only meets once a week and it becomes one part of Denver Public Library‘s Summer of Reading program.

“It’s that interaction, that live performance,” Ramsey said. “I really do like to do a lot of acting out,”

For the past 85 years, Denver Public Library has done Summer of Reading, which encourages children to read throughout the summer and gives them prizes when they bring back evidence that they read a certain number of hours.

“When I was a kid and did it, we got gold stars. It’s changed a little since then,” said Lisa Champion, who is in her eighth year as Summer of Reading coordinator for Denver Public Library.

The program starts June 2 and runs through Aug. 9 at all 25 Denver Public Library locations. There are three age groups for Summer of Reading: birth to preschool, kids and teens. For the birth to preschool-aged kids, they participate in a “Read with Me” program that encourages parents to read to their young children. Parents and babies earn prizes as they complete early literacy activities together.

Children in kindergarten through fifth grade are rewarded for every three hours they document their reading. Prizes range from Chipotle burrito gift cards to free tickets to Elitch Gardens.

Teens,in sixth grade through 12th grade are eligible for the same prizes, but they must complete four hours of reading per prize. Kids can get three prizes for the summer.

“There’s plenty of studies out there that say summer reading is important,” Champion said.

Last year, more than 41,000 youth participated in the program with about a third of them finishing the program and receiving all three prizes.

Each branch also has its own weekly schedule for Summer of Reading activities throughout the summer.

Ramsey’s class at Ford Warren gets so big the library opens up a second room. He said his main goal is to make reading fun for kids, and he even encourages parents to let their children leave if they are restless and they can come back when they are ready.

“We don’t want them to think that reading is boring,” he said.

Simone Groene-Nieto regularly brings her two young children, ages 2 and 5 months, to Ford Warren and said it’s not only good for getting kids interested in reading, but also to get them socializing. as well.

She said, “I take (my daughter) here once a week so she can learn how to learn and do what other kids are doing.”

Joe Vaccarelli