Library, businesses offer rewards for reading
The Shepherdstown Public Library and businesses in Shepherdstown are encouraging children to read this summer while enjoying time away from school.
Children’s librarians Kathleen Dawe and Anne Eden, along with Friends of the Shepherdstown Library, are hosting the “One World, Many Stories” 2011 summer reading program. Younger children can read or have 36 picture books read to them, and older children can read 12 chapter books totaling at least 350 pages.
Starting on Aug. 8 a parent can sign the child’s reading log and turn it in at the library for a reward voucher packet.
Dawe said that rewards for completed summer reading logs have been different in years past.
“In the past, we got a Hagerstown Suns free pass for one night; Bob Evans gave a free child’s meal. This year, nobody ‘big’ signed up,” Dawe said.
Dawe said this is a statement about the status of the economy. She said that if big corporations are not making as much money, they will not be as likely to donate to a cause like the summer reading program.
The summer reading program this year is rewarding young readers with prizes from businesses in Shepherdstown. More than 10 locally owned establishments in Shepherdstown are volunteering to offer treats to children who complete the reading requirement.
Dawe said the businesses in Shepherdstown are supporting the summer reading program as a way to give back to the community.
“They’re stepping up to something because they know these families,” Dawe said.
The Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery is one of the businesses that is rewarding young readers this summer. Children who complete their reading logs can receive a free cupcake.
Teresa McBee, the manager of The Sweet Shop, said that the bakery usually receives business from children and parents who attend story hour at the library because of the shop’s location adjacent to the library.
McBee acknowledged that the free cupcake offer with the summer reading program may bring in new customers but said this is the exception rather than the rule.
“We get asked every day by somebody to donate something, whether it’s somebody from Shepherd University or somebody from a youth group or church in town. We cannot give things away and not sell things. We’ve chosen a couple of charitable causes to support throughout the year,” McBee said.
McBee said that participating in the summer reading program was one thing that The Sweet Shop could do that would not detract too much from business and would mean a lot to the community at the same time.
Aaron Collins, general manager at Kazu Thai and Japanese Cuisine, is offering a choice of red bean ice cream or Miso soup to children who complete their reading.
Collins said he is not worried about children being put off by the exotic treats.
“Kids are more curious now and more open to try new things, so it’ll be interesting to see how many do (try the food),” Collins said.
Collins said that he wanted Kazu to be a part of the summer reading program as a way to give something back to the community of Shepherdstown and promote the restaurant.
“We have a lot of word-of-mouth promotion, but summer has been a little slow. It’s just that when Shepherd College is out, half the population of town is missing,” Collins said.
He said the slight decline in business has more to do with the season than the economy but would be glad if the restaurant gains one or two more customers from its participation in the summer reading program. Collins said that parents might take a look at a menu while their child is eating their reward snack.
Dawe expressed pride in the strength of the Shepherdstown community and was excited that so many businesses chose to participate, even in difficult economic times.
“In these really tough times, there’s almost nothing for free,” Dawe said. “This year, the reward in what is one of our darkest times since the 1930s with the economy is that nearly every business stepped up. I’m really quite touched by the way the community did that.”