Pinelands Library offers summer reading program that is out of this world

Young readers get a chance to participate in this summer's reading program theme A Universe of Stories in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Librarian Rick Yankosky, the host of Story Time with Mr. Rick – a weekly event for children ages 3 to 6 – reads to the young crowd during a session on Wednesday, July 10 at the Pinelands Branch Library in Medford.

Until Aug. 17, the Pinelands Library in Medford is offering a summer reading program that is out of this world. 

It’s all part of the eight-week Burlington County Library System’s reading program. Libraries in the county will feature an assortment of programs for children of all ages, including space exploration, nature and animal presentations, magic shows and challenging STEM activities. 

Each year, the theme is selected by the Collaborative Summer Library Program. This summer, it chose a space theme to honor and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

“They (the programs) help to promote literacy during the summer months when school is not in session, helping to avoid the ‘summer slide.’ It encourages lifelong readers, and with the recent addition of the activity tracks to our program, it can just be good fun and provide an opportunity for family time,” said Pinelands Branch Library Youth Services Librarian Lauren James.

Readers are able to claim rewards for the books that they read. For ages 5 and under, a child must read 10 books for one prize. Kids ages 6 to 12 need to read three books for a prize. Teens must complete one activity track to win a prize. 

There are almost 15 activity tracks for readers to choose from, and not all of them require reading. For instance, the Alien Adventures track requires participants to complete three out of six unique activities to earn a prize. One of them includes creating a story about aliens landing in their backyard. Another activity requires kids to explore the county’s parks. Others are more engaging, such as doing the chicken dance with a library staff member. 

“Children and teens will find a wide range of entertainment to explore, not just great books, but exciting, free library events, access to technology, the opportunity to earn prizes during our summer reading program and much more. The Burlington County Library System works to provide parents the toolkit to keep the whole family engaged and learning all summer long,” said Freeholder Felicia Hopson, liaison to the Burlington County Library System, in a press release. 

Participants who sign up for the program can again use Beanstack, the library system’s online program, to track their reading progress, explore books lists, and access Activity Tracks customized for each age group and designed to encourage learning, curiosity and fun. Participants can log their books by either downloading the Beanstack app on their phone, tablet or on the library’s website.

The library will have an afternoon party on Aug. 17 to celebrate the children’s reading accomplishments. Readers will get a chance to pie a librarian at the party if the kids reach the collective goal of 50,000 books for the summer, according to the library.