“The first book I read on my very own was called ‘Caddy Woodlawn’,” reflected Georgia Cartner, Book Patch Children’s Library’s services director. “It was all about this little girl, during pioneer times, who was very adventurous and always got into trouble. ‘Caddy Woodlawn’ really started me off with my love of books.”

Like Cartner, many people have fond memories of the first book they read. Sometimes the book was passed down from an older sibling, other times it was brand new, complete with that new-book smell. The Book Patch Children’s Library Summer Reading program offers the children of the Joint Based Lewis-McChord community the chance to enjoy new experiences, as well develop a love of reading.

This year’s theme is ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Read’. The program, which is funded by the Department of Defense, is creating a whole new generation of book lovers. It has become known for keeping kids learning during the summer months, while having a terrific time doing so.

“It’s to encourage children to read over the summer in a fun, creative way,” stated Cartner. “The kids get prizes and incentives for reading a certain number of hours. They keep track of their progress by using reading logs.

“There are three levels, which add up to roughly 30 hours of reading over a seven to eight week period,” added Cartner. “I believe kids who read during the summer are better prepared for school in the fall. So having them attend a program like this can help them start the school year off strong.”

Over 1,000 children are registered in the reading incentive program. In addition to it, the Patch Library, located inside of the Grandstaff Memorial Library, holds a story time event every Wednesday and arts and crafts on Thursday.

“Wednesday our story time revolves around the summer reading theme. We have read stories about fairies, princes, princesses, and knight’s in shining armor,” stated Cartner. “We always have a craft to go along with the story. On average we have about 45 children show up to the event. Thursdays we have a craft or activity, such as a dragon egg hunt or making shields out of cardboard and construction paper, which the kids have a great time doing.”

While the children are busy with crafts or are being read a story, the parents are spending their time bonding with their children and meeting fellow parents. With families being apart, due to deployments and training, participating in these activities has been a great way for families to feel closer and learn at the same time.

Michelle Michalis and her daughters are new to the program and found it to be just what they were looking for. Michalis said that her daughters really enjoy reading as well as arts and crafts, so the summer reading program activities were a perfect fit for her family and plans to recommend it to the Soldiers in her husband’s battalion.
“This program is not only a fun activity for your children to do, but also a great place to meet people; meet other spouses and get acquainted,” added Michalis. “I was able to make new friends yesterday and we exchanged contact information. My girls are so happy that they can come here, meet other children and make various crafts.”

“We found out about the program from a neighbor,” said Michalis. “My girls were very engaged in the story time and the arts and crafts project. I believe we are going to come back here quite often.”

Whether it’s to make new friends or to have your children hear one of their favorite stories, the summer reading program at Book Patch Library has something for everyone. Cartner added that even though having fun during the summer is important; the skills learned from this program will create a life-long love of reading.

“It is amazing and so much fun when you see a kid’s face light up while reading a book,” beamed Cartner. “Sometimes they are very reluctant readers, but when you show them a book and it’s like a light goes on in there head. They’re like whoa, and they come back wanting to read and learn more.”