Fort Riley, Kansas



Summer Reading Program keeps kids on top of school, life

By Season Osterfeld | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | June 09, 2017

     From less than a year old into their teens, children of service members started the Summer Reading Program off with a party at the Fort Riley Post Library June 3.

     Kids and parents alike celebrated the start of the program with lunch, a bounce house, dunk tank and reading.

     The program, which runs from Memorial Day to the first week of August, keeps kids reading during their summer vacation so they can continue to improve their skills in a fun, social manner, said Terri Seaman, contract manager for the Fort Riley Post Library.

     “The Summer Reading Program is a chance for the kids to go read during the summer so they don’t lose the skills that they got during the school year,” she said. “It gives them a chance to earn points and then at the end of the year they can earn prizes. We also have a big party at the end of the summer for those who qualify. They have to do 45 points.”

     To earn points, children can attend Storytime every Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the library, go to any of the library parties during the summer or maintain a log of the time they spend reading, earning points per every minute, Seaman said.

     Charles Whalen III, 13, son of Sgt. Charles Whalen II, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, said he has been participating in summer reading programs since his father enlisted.

     He said he already enjoys reading, so the program provides him rewards through prizes and parties for something he loves.

     He said he has expanded his vocabulary through reading and believes other kids can also benefit intellectually from it.

     “It gets them started and prepared for later on in school where they’ll have to analyze things,” he said. “If they already read books and analyze them in their head on their own, it’ll be easier for them in school.”

     One of the youngest participants in the program is 2-month-old Lillian who will be reading with her mother Calli Nickerson, wife of Pfc. Brian Nickerson, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div.

     Nickerson said she enrolled her daughter to provide her with socialization opportunities and assist in her development.

     “It teaches kids not only how to socialize, but also that reading is important and it’s not just lame or boring,” she said of the program.

     Although decades have passed, many books remain number one on kids’ reading lists for the summer, Seaman said.

     “For the younger kids, we’re seeing a lot of Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George and these are the same books that we read when we were kids,” she said. “The middle schoolers are reading a lot of Fancy Nancy books. Once we get into the early teens, the Manja books are moving off the shelves like crazy.”

     The Summer Reading Program is more than just getting kids to read, it’s about making reading fun because it’s a vital skill to help them through life as a whole, Seaman said.

     “Reading is life,” she said. “Everything you’re going to do from the time you enter pre-school until the time you die, you have to be able to read. When you’re in school, you’re reading for school. When you’re an adult, you’re reading for jobs. Once you retire, you’re reading for fun. It’s a skill that, in our society, you just can’t do without the ability to read. You will be completely left out of 90 percent of social interactions if you can’t read.”

     Sign up for the Summer Reading Program will continue until July 1. For more information, visit the post library or call at 785- 239-5305.