Oxford overflowing with summer reading opportunities

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A look at some of the grand prizes for Lane Library’s ‘Imagine Your Story” summer reading challenge. There are three grand prizes for each age group and as well as a bundle of local gift cards for the adult grand prize. Photo courtesy of Lane Library

By Emily Gentry

This summer, with safe-distancing precautions and other COVID-19 restrictions either delaying or blocking many standard activities, many people will be stay-cationing at home with an abundance of time for leisure reading.

Several organizations around Oxford are accommodating to this increased demand by offering summer reading programs with incentives from free books to grand prizes.  

The Ohio Department of Education and INFOhio are encouraging leisure reading by offering free, online summer “Beach Bags,” with feature stories and activities for children to practice their reading skills. INFOhio is also providing books, activities and experiments for children interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math). Some of these experiments can be made with everyday items, might involve codebreaking, or perhaps learning the physics behind roller coasters.

Lane Public Library is hosting an online summer reading challenge with prizes for all age groups including adults. The “Imagine Your Story” challenge gives one point for each minute of logged reading and has prizes at varying point values. “Kids can read whatever they want. Magazines, online news, audiobooks, anything!” said Caitlin Campbell, Lane Library’s children’s librarian.

All of the prizes for the younger age groups follow the fantasy theme from wizard wands to unicorn and dragon kits, making sure your kids will be excited to read. The grand prize for adults will be a gift bag of local gift cards equivalent to $100. The program will run from May 1 through Aug. 1.

In addition to the reading challenge, Lane Library is offering personalized book bundles for people of all ages. After answering a few questions about your interests via phone, at (513) 523- 7531, librarians will personalize your bundle and you’ll be able to pick it up through the drive-thru behind the building, 441 S. Locust St., Oxford.

“We’ve had the drive-thru open for three weeks now and the demand has been very steady,” said Rebecca Smith, branch manager of Lane Library. Take-home crafts will also be offered starting June 4 but are available at a first-come, first-serve basis. The drive-thru is open from noon to 7 p.m.

Lane Library will be allowing reservations for computer time within the library starting June 8 from noon to 6 p.m. and will allow patrons to have access to computers, printers and the photocopier. The reservations can be made up to one week in advance and will allow patrons one hour with the library’s resources. Patrons will be required to wear masks and between each reservation the library will clean all facilities. Lane Library hopes to open the library to the public starting in July, as the demand for books is very high.

“My main advice to parents in keeping their children’s interest in reading is to give them the freedom of reading whatever they’re interested in even if it’s below their reading level,” said Campbell, “Keeping them boxed in reading level limitations is the fastest way to kill their love for reading.”

Although Talawanda School District’s K-5 Summer Academy and the Sandy Hormel Book Celebration have been canceled for the summer and the fall, “groups within the district are raising money to get books to kids in need,” said Kathy James, instructional coach for the district.

The Oxford Literacy Team and TOPPS, the Talawanda and Oxford Pantry and Social Services, are also working to provide books for kids. TOPSS added books to their food bags this past Spring.

Kate Byrd, a reading intervention teacher at Kramer Elementary, suggested that parents encourage their kids to read anything that might further an interest. “Read pretty much anything and everything, even if it’s the back of a cereal box. Anything that can cultivate that love for reading,” said Byrd.

Although many opportunities are limited this summer, leisure reading has never been easier or more accessible.