IndyPL summer reading program to celebrate our furry friends

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The Indianapolis Public Library and IndyHumane are teaming up for a summer reading program to remember.

IndyPL’s summer reading program is a longstanding annual tradition for the library, encouraging kids and adults to challenge themselves or just read for fun. This year’s program kicked off on June 1 across all branches and runs until July 31 with the last day to pick up prizes on Aug. 3.

“Summer Reading is about celebrating and enjoying stories, so even if you have a kid who isn’t super interested in reading, still bring them up for summer reading,” said Devery North, IndyPL’s program specialist. “Talk to a librarian, we can find a book (or) a topic they are interested in … and encourage that curiosity of learning.”

The summer reading program is open to children and adults. The program is based on hours read and awards minutes into points that can be traded in for prizes. Prizes are earned at one hour, five hours, 10 hours, 15 hours and 20 hours of reading time. Reading time can be traced on the Beanstack app or participants can pick up a paper tracker at one of the branches.

The theme of this year’s reading program is pets, and IndyPL is partnering with IndyHumane for programing, activities and pet adoptions at select branches, North said. The library has a selection of books to go along with the theme of pets, but participants can read any books they want and it will count toward their goal.

One of the programs with IndyHumane is Paws for a Cause, which allows kids to come in and make dog toys and no-sew pet blankets that will be donated back to the animal shelter. 

“Kids want to make a difference in their community, and this was a tangible way for kids to work on something and then be able to give back to their community and all while being at the library,” North said. “Sometimes it could be hard for younger kids, at least, to volunteer, and I know sometimes doing crafts like that at home can be cost prohibitive. So, it’s really fun to be offered that at the library for free to folks to participate in.”

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To raise awareness for and make pet adoption more accessible, IndyHumane’s pet adoption wagon will be at the Wayne Branch on June 18, Irving Branch on July 3 and Lawrence Branch on July 17. Each of the adoptions takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In addition to the summer reading program, many of the branches offer regular and bilingual storytimes, family game nights, community book clubs and more, Martindale Brightwood Branch Manager Theresa Coleman said. One of the programs unique to the Martindale-Brightwood Branch is the Build It program, which allows participants to learn how to make things with wood and power tools.

“Kids get to actually come in and build things with wood and using tools guided by the program leader and his helpers,” Coleman said. “It’s usually about an hour of a lot of hammering and tapping but kids walk out with a real tangible thing.”

The Martindale Brightwood Branch is the oldest branch in the IndyPL system, located at 2434 N. Sherman Drive, which is half a mile from the Wheeler Dowe Boys & Girls Club. Due to its proximity, Coleman said her branch shares the summer reading program with the kids who attend in addition to setting a book donation for the kids who do not have access to a school library during the summer.

“It’s an important program for parents looking for something for their kids to do during the summer,” Coleman said. “Boys and Girls (Club) not only offers opportunities after school, but also during the summer, and being able to provide them with their own library of books in each location is an invaluable resource for the teachers who come in and also for the kids who spend time there and during the summer.”

Sophia Perez picks out a few books during the Summer Reading program kick off at the Martindale-Brightwood Branch on June 1, 2024. (Photo provided/IndyPL)

What else is new to the library?

New to the library and the summer reading program is an early literacy tracker for children ages 0-5. From early infancy, children hear and mimic words and sounds they hear from their parents, which helps develop fluency, Coleman said. The same applies to reading and literacy. Parents can use the Early Literacy Tracker to track reading, writing, talking, singing and playing.

“Those are things that a lot of parents probably are already doing but aren’t aware they are doing it,” Coleman said. “But this way it makes it more intentional that you seek to use those tools at home, and you’re more intentional about it. And that way, you offer that to your child every day.”

Select programming will also now offer American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters through Easter Seals Crossroads. Previously, the library offered these services upon request, however, North said the library is really making an effort to be more proactive about being ADA accessible for all patrons.

A series of virtual author talks will also be available for library patrons at the end of the summer, including Freida McFadden, Tiffany Jewell, Kate DiCamillo and Mercy Watson, Max Brallier, Elizabeth Acevedo and Dan Santat.

Indianapolis Public Library’s summer reading program runs through July 31. For more information or to register, visit indypl.org/programs-events/srp.

Contact Arts & Culture Reporter Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on X @chloe_mcgowanxx.