RANCHO SANTA FE — More children have signed up for the summer reading program at the Rancho Santa Fe Library than ever before, said Debbie Wilson, youth services manager.
So far 250 have signed up and by the time summer is over, she expects 350, she said.
One of the reasons, she thinks, is because libraries nationwide are reporting an increase in patronage because of the economic downturn.
“We offer so much and it costs nothing,” she said. “Kids can come anytime.”
Another of the reasons is that besides reading to win prizes, the Rancho Santa Fe program is packed with other fun like crafts, art, board games and performances by clowns, magicians and dancers.
The theme this year is “Make a Splash! Read,” so the library is decorated with an under-the-sea theme with paper cutouts of sea creatures, blow-up fish and crepe paper seaweed hanging down from the ceiling. Readers can win water-themed prizes like sunglasses, water toys and trips to a water park. At the end of the summer, kids who have collected raffle tickets for their efforts can win big prizes like trips to the Zoo, Legoland, Padre games and the Space Museum.
“Reading is a prize in itself and then you get prizes,” she said.
She said the program is geared for four age groups: birth to 3 years old (yes, parents do come and read to their newborns); age 4 to second grade; tweens who are in grades three to five; and teens for sixth- to 12th-graders.
On a recent day, Tessora Bustillos was curled up in a chair reading.
“I like to come because of all the books,” the 10-year-old R. Roger Rowe School student said. “I like to read and doing the summer reading program is a really fun project.”
Later in the afternoon a group of children, including Tessora, were making treats for their dogs from peanut butter and flour. They were going to be cut with a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter, and then baked in the library’s oven.
The day before, a makeup artist had visited to teach make up tricks to the girls.
There is still time for children to sign up for the program, which ends on Aug. 6 with a snow cone party and the awarding of prizes.
They can come into the library to sign up or do so online. They can read books, magazines, graphic novels, listen to audio books or read to younger siblings. As they reach each level of number of minutes reading, they can come to the library to get a prize or a ticket for the grand drawing at the end of the program.
“Also at each step along the way, they get free books,” Wilson said.
This year again, they will be able to sign up for Read For A Reason” and for every designated number of hours they read, they can help send food to the The Pet Food Bank and help buy 5,000 dog waste bag dispensers in an effort to keep dog waste out of the oceans.
Wilson said that support from the Rancho Santa Fe Library Guild and a yearly grant from the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation is invaluable in keeping the library and its activities fresh, fun and relevant.
“We try to make it a comfortable place for all ages,” Wilson said. “To promote the love of reading is what it is all about.”
To learn more about the summer reading program call (858) 756-2512 or visit www.sdcl.org.
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