The first day to sign up for Gail Borden Public Library's summer reading program is here.
Students in Elgin Area School District U-46 have about a month of classes left and library officials are hoping their reading plans don't end at the close of the academic year. U-46 Superintendent José Torres will join Gail Borden and community representatives Wednesday to kick off the summer reading program dubbed "Reading is So Delicious."
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Backed by statistics about how much more successful students are when they keep reading, officials are trying to entice more kids than ever to keep their books out as the days get warmer.
Faith Brautigam, director of Early Literacy and Learning Initiatives at Gail Borden, said students who don't read over the summer are less prepared when they get back to school. That's a problem. But it becomes an even larger one if it happens year after year.
"It's not just a one-time problem," Brautigam said. "It's a cumulative problem if your children don't keep up over the summer."
Everyone who signs up Wednesday will be entered into a drawing to win an e-reader with plenty of incentives to carry them through the rest of the program. Registration before June 2 gets free admission to Children Just Like Me EVERYWHERE!, a special event at the library with music, dance, crafts and food tasting. And students 12 and younger who sign up before June 4 will get a free pass to Medieval Times in Schaumburg.
The youngest students are asked to read for 300 minutes during the summer break. Elementary students must read 600 minutes to complete the program and kids in grades six through eight must read double that to finish, which means 20 hours over the course of the summer.
But the reading program isn't just for kids. Entire families can sign up and take part in the special programming.
"It's just important for everyone that we increase the reading levels and the abilities of the kids in these schools because, really, they are tomorrow's leaders," said Denise Raleigh, director of marketing at the library.
Last year about 7,000 students participated, but only half reported completing the program. Raleigh said new prizes -- including tickets to Elgin carnivals, new iPads and free entry into local pools -- hopefully will increase the number of students completing the program, or reporting their completion if they did the work but didn't follow up in past years.
Reading support will be available throughout the summer, including Thursday Reading Cafes to give kids a quiet place to read and help finding good books. Participants are welcome from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays from July 14 through Aug. 9.
For more information about the summer reading program or to register online, visit gailborden.info. Registration is open through July 15.