While not all the activities involve reading, getting people to open a book is the goal of all the activities.
“It’s all about getting people into the library,” said Kathy Watson, youth services director at Kimball Library in Atkinson. “Once we get them in here, they can see all of the things that we have.”
Watson said she collaborates with other libraries to come up with programs to fit the year’s theme. Their most popular program so far was Toad Abodes, where children designed a container garden for a mythical creature of their choice. The program was so popular the library held a second program for those who missed out on the first one.
New Hampshire’s summer reading program has been in place since 1990, but the state joined the national collaborative effort in 2010.
“I’d say we’ve gotten consistent numbers each year,” Hoey said. “I think numbers have been high in recent years because of the economy. People are always trying to take advantage of free activities.”
The majority of the activities are funded within an individual library’s budget. Grants are available for special performances. The state library provides a free manual to libraries with ideas to fit this year’s theme.
“All of our activities have been well received,” said Heidenblad of Windham, “from animal presentations to a fossil program we had.”
Most library activities are geared toward children, but others are getting the adults involved as well. Derry put its own spin on this year’s theme with “Digging Into Derry,” which focuses on the town’s history. The library hosted a genealogy program last night and plans a lecture about the history of Forest Hill Cemetery. While only 19 adults are participating in this year’s summer reading program, some of the events have drawn up to 40 people.
Gale Library in Newton has more than 100 residents signed up for the summer program, most of them children, according to director Theresa Caswell.
Next year’s theme already is being planned. The Collective Summer Library Program has chosen “Fizz, Boom, Read,” as the theme for 2014, which will focus on science experiments.