Phoenix libraries are keeping kids reading during the summer with special programs and prizes.

Public libraries throughout the Valley, including Ironwood Library on Chandler Boulevard near 44th Street, are hosting two summer reading programs for children through July 31, said Rita Marko, management assistant at Phoenix Public Library. The programs were implemented to encourage kids to keep reading during their vacation.

Readership tends to increase at Phoenix libraries during the summer. Marko said the average 28,000 visitors per month at Ironwood increases to 32,500 in the summer.

She said she thinks there are many reasons families become more engaged in the summer, including the Arizona heat.

“Especially in Arizona where it’s so blasted hot outside, people check out movies to watch together as a family,” Marko said.

She also believes traveling affects readership, since many people visit libraries to check out books on CD or DVD for kids to watch in the backseat.

A major reason for increased readership, however, is the out-of-school children, she said.

“I think parents know that it’s extremely important to keep kids reading during their summer vacation,” Marko said.

The library helps parents in this task by offering two reading programs, “Extra! Extra! Read Your Way to the Ballpark” and “Make Waves at Your Library,” according to a news release from the city of Phoenix.

The first program encourages children ages 0 to 18 to read or listen to someone read for a certain amount of time by offering prizes at certain stages. Those who finish the program win a children’s book and a ticket to an Arizona Diamondback’s game.

The second program, “Make Waves at Your Library,” is for teens who submit reading logs or book reviews to win prizes, including a grand prize of an eMachine Netbook.

Aside from special reading programs, Phoenix libraries also offer convenient services at any time of the year, including delivery, Marko said.

If someone wants a certain book, and sees that it is not at Ironwood, but it is at another branch, “you don’t have to get in the car and go,” she said. If a user places a hold on the item, it will be delivered to his or her library in a couple of days.

“It’s one of those treasures that people don’t know about,” Marko said, adding that though the service is popular, it is not used to its fullest abilities.

She said it is great for those who are doing specific kinds of research, like students, because they do not have to rely on only one library for all of their needs.

The library will e-mail the user when the book is available at the nearby library, and Marko said people love it.

“People are thrilled (with the service), it’s like getting a present,” she said.


Jolie McCullough is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.

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