Local Reading Program Really Pays Off

Ice cream, admission to The Water Mine, a game of bowling, a round of miniature golf — these are just a few of the things this year’s Fairfax County Public Library Summer Reading Program participants can get for free by completing the targets set for their age group.

The program runs through September 5 and encourages kids preschool through sixth grade to read 15 books.  (Younger children may have the books read TO them.)  Kids in grades 7-12 read eight books.  In my experience, they allow children even younger than preschool participate, because the ultimate goal is to develop the habit of reading or being read to — so no need to leave out that younger sibling.  The young readers record the books read in a log, which you can pick up at the library or use one of the forms from the Summer Readingweb site.  We prefer going to the library, first of all, because we love going to the library, but also because it makes it a big, festive occasion.  The kids walk up to the SRP booth, staffed by student volunteers, and give their name and receive their very own reading log.  The printed reading logs include two bonus coupons, one for a free student ticket to a Nationals game on Sunday, August 9, and one for a free DC United ticket with purchase of one Adult ticket for a summer game at RFK (must be purchased in advance of the game).

JavaBoy and JavaGirl have enjoyed selecting their books for the reading program, particularly since they knew that once they completed their 15 books, they would get their coupon books, which provided lots of fun adventures last summer.  We immediately selected some books and started reading right there at the library and then checked some others to take home.  JavaBoy (5) is learning to read, so we’ve devoted part of the list to books he could read to us, and then we read some books to him.  JavaGirl is 3, so we read books to her, but after we read them, she tried to “read” them back to us.  JavaBoy also wrote most of the book titles on the log himself, so it became an exercise in writing as well — good practice for Kindergarten.

Today we picked up our coupon books — which JavaBoy has been quite anxious to do.  Memories of going to water parks and getting ice cream cones and free watercolor kits were dancing in his head.  This is what we found in this year’s coupon book (with many thanks to all the sponsors):

(Note:  in MOST cases, the coupon is for the reader, i.e. someone 18 or under.  Also, most of the coupons are specific to certain stores/locations, I’m not typing out all the fine print, just giving you an overview.)

  • $2 off a $5 purchase at specified library book sales from The Friends of the Library
  • Free game of bowling – AMF
  • 1 free adventure – Shadowland Laser Adventures
  • Buy one admission, get one free for the reader – The Water Mine
  • Free soft serve cone – McDonald’s
  • 20% off one item – Borders
  • $3 off half day row boat rental at Riverbend Park
  • 1 free child’s pass to Colvin Run Mill
  • 1 family pass to any George Mason University Varsity Club football game – GMU Varisty Club Football Team
  • 1 free 5×7″ color enlargement – MotoPhoto
  • $4 gift certificate with $6 min. purchase – Aladdin’s Lamp
  • 1 free admission to any RECenter in Fairfax County – Fairfax County Park Authority
  • 1 free after 3pm admission with one paid after 3pm admission M-F – Splash Down Waterpark
  • Free kids ice cream- Cold Stone Creamery
  • Free Mini Seed Starting Kit -Green Spring Gardens/Fairfax County Park Authority
  • Free gift -Hidden Oaks Nature Center/Fairfax County Park Authority
  • $2 off admission – Mount Vernon
  • 1 free session at Wakefield skate park – Wakefield Skate Park
  • 1 Free ticket to a men’s basketball game and a women’s basketball game at George Mason University – George Mason University Athletic Department
  • 1 Free round of miniature golf (x2) – Lake Accotink/Lucky Duck Miniature Golf, Oak Marr, Burke Lake Park, Jefferson Falls, Fairfax County Park Authority
  • 1 complimentary child’s meal – Old Country Buffet
  • 1 free doughnut – Krispy Kreme
  • $2.50 gift certificate – Clay Cafe Studios
  • Free gift -Huntley Meadows Park/Fairfax County Park Authority
  • Free Giant Ready to Eat Cereal 6 oz-20z pkg – Giant
  • Free Back Pack – sponsored by The Rappaport Companies
  • 40% off one item – Michael’s
  • Free gift -Ellanor C. Lawrence Park/Fairfax County Park Authority
  • Free laminated animal track ID card – Hidden Oaks Nature Center/Fairfax County Park Authority
  • Buy a large one-topping pizza gt a medium one-topping pizza free – Domino’s
  • Pay $24.99 +tax any day through Nov. 1, 2009 – Six Flags America
  • Free ticket to a men’s soccer game and a free ticket to a women’s soccer game any match in Sept. – George Mason Athletic Department
  • Free child’s admission to Sully Historic Site – Fairfax County Park Authority
  • Half-price tractor wagon ride at Frying Pan Farm Park -/Fairfax County Park Authority
  • One small cheese pizza free with purchase of a regular size Coke – Jerry’s Subs
  • Free brownie – Chik-fil-A
  • 1 free token for range balls with the cash purchase of one token – Burke Lake Golf Center/Fairfax County Park Authority
  • Clean Fairfax and all the regional libraries are listed as sponsors.

So just in case my Summer Fun Guidedidn’t provide you with enough ideas for keeping busy this summer, running around and redeeming those coupons should keep you hopping!  Every time you redeem one, you get the added benefit of linking the reward to reading, “Gosh, we’re having so much fun at this water park today because YOU read all those great books!”  I really love this program because it gets the kids excited to go to the library (I really build it up beforehand — we have a countdown until the program starts), they feel a lot of pride in walking up and signing themselves up, and they look forward to selecting the books that they want to “count” towards their list.  They don’t want any old book, they really want special books for some reason.  Then we have so much fun redeeming the coupons and if I’m having a particularly blah Mommy day, I flip through the coupon book to see if there’s a mini-adventure in there we can embark upon — even just going out for a brownie at Chik-fil-A can become an adventure if you choose to make it one. 

 The reading doesn’t stop after they have picked up their coupon books — we pick up the “keep on reading” logs from the library and keep recording what we’ve read.  Even today, as soon as the kids got their coupon books, they begged to go look at more books and JavaGirl brought me at least four to read to her and JavaBoy used his own library card to check out another book on his own.  That’s the ultimate payoff!