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Incentives get local kids cracking the books

by Sara Hacking,

Staff Writer

The Wadena City Library hopes to entice young readers to explore the bountiful benefits of books through this summer's nation-wide reading campaign "Catch the Beat at Your Library."

The program runs from June 8 through July 29 and includes prizes for minutes read, weekly story hours and upcoming special programs. Renee Frethem, branch manager, said children from preschool to age 11 and young adults from age 12 to 18 are welcome to join at any time.

"We just want to have anyone that wants to come in and participate," she said. "If we can get people interested in coming to the library when they're children, we can get them to utilize this resource their entire lives."

Readers receive a free Twins' poster and vouchers for upper deck seats for a Twins' game when they sign up.

Participants get bookmarks decorated with musical notes to record their reading time and a paper clock on the library wall to color in their time when they visit the library.

Readers win special prizes for each bookmark they complete, including bookmarks, pencils, erasers, tattoos, door hangers, book bags and food coupons to local restaurants. Once they have won all of the other prizes, readers can choose from a grab bag loaded with bracelets, sidewalk chalk, glue sticks and other kid-friendly goodies. There will also be a drawing July 31 for additional prizes.

In addition to encouraging children to read at home, the library also sponsors a story time each Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and special programs in July that will coordinate with the musical theme of "Catch the Beat at Your Library." The first program features Ryan and Megan Ellingson of Ellingson's Classical Strings and will be held at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on July 13. Frethem said the library is still organizing additional events.

Frethem said 163 readers have signed up for the program and the library has experienced a steady stream of excited participants filling out their clocks and collecting their prizes.

Wadena resident Amie Kreller, 12, recently signed up and she said she plans on reading the latest in R. L. Stine's "Goosebumps" series and more books in her favorite series, "Hank the Cowdog" by John R. Erickson.

She said she likes to read, but she also appreciates the additional perks of participating in the program.

"I'm a Twins fan and I want to go see the Twins this year," Kreller said as she smiled and eagerly clutched her new Twins poster and Twins ticket voucher.

Becky Huhta, a Sebeka resident, said seven of her 10 children signed up for this year's program. She said they do not have television at home and reading is a major part of her children's recreation. Huhta said her children's love of reading has also helped them tremendously in school.

Frethem said one of the major purposes of the reading program is to keep kids reading through the summer months so they don't lose the reading skills they have acquired during the school year.

"They don't want to fall behind," she said. "It's too hard to catch up."

Frethem said the program has a purpose, but it's also fun.

"It's not like schoolwork," she said. "They're still on vacation, and they can do it on their own time."

For additional information about "Catch the Beat at Your Library" contact Frethem at 631-2476.