By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW— As school begins this week, it usually marks the end of summer reading programs at local libraries. But one library has decided the summer just wasn’t enough.
Plaistow Public Library announced the extension of this year’s summer reading program, due to popular demand.
“It was such a great success,” said Nancy Chase, the children’s director at the library. “We had so many parents talk about how much their kids read this summer.”
Chase said 198 children participated in the Dig Into Reading program in Plaistow this summer. She created a game board and solicited more than $2,000 in prizes from local businesses to make it fun for kids to read.
“The whole point was for kids to set their own goals and win prizes along the way — no matter how far they got,” she said.
Prizes included gift certificates to ice cream shops and restaurants, but Chase said there was one prize all the children wanted.
“Everyone always wanted to win the free book,” she said.
Parents said the approach was a huge hit.
“My kids just had so much fun,” said AnnMarie Byrnes of Haverhill, Mass. “They were learning so much and they didn’t even know it was learning.”
The program wasn’t just about reading. Plaistow resident Valerie Farnell said her three children enjoyed the activities related to the program.
“The programs that were offered were such a great resource to the community,” Farnell said.
She said her family went to the library at least once a week.
After the program ended earlier this month, several parents asked Chase if there was any way to extend the program.
“I’m always saying to bring on more reading programs,” Byrnes said. “It makes children want to read more when they realize there is a prize at the end of the program.”
Chase didn’t have all the details yet on what will be planned for the fall, but it will be called “The Great Gumball Challenge.”
“It will be on a much smaller scale when it comes to prizes and activities,” she said. “But there will be plenty of activities planned to keep them engaged through the fall.”
Chase said the program will begin in mid-September.
For Byrnes, she hopes the program will continue to expand her children’s love for reading.
“All my children want to do now is read,” she said. “I’m so excited that they will be able to continue doing what they loved in the fall.”