Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: F.C. Library Recruiting Local Reading Heroes

By Emily Lu & Jenny Carroll

Summer is here, and the librarians and staff at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library are thrilled to reveal the theme for this year’s Summer Reading Program: Every Hero Has a Story! We know kids and adults alike will be excited to defeat that old villain, Summer Boredom, by reading new and captivating books, playing games, watching special performances, learning through special programs, and more!

Your neighborhood library is here to save the day – or, rather, save the summer. School-aged independent readers and teens that sign up for the program and read five or more books this summer are eligible to receive a free paperback book and a coupon book sponsored by local businesses. All of your favorite shops and eateries are joining in the Reading Hero fun: Clay Café Studios, Doodlehopper 4 Kids, Elevation Burger, Eye Level Learning Center, Flippin’ Pizza, Foxes Music, Giant, The Happy Tart, Lazy Sundae, The Local Market, One More Page Books, Original Pancake House, Starbucks at Falls Plaza and Broaddale Shopping Centers, Victory Comics, and Zinga!

Babies, infants, and toddler pre-readers whose older siblings, parents, and caregivers read at least 30 books aloud to them are also eligible for a free paperback or board book. After completing their book log, teens are also eligible to enter a raffle for more prizes including an Amazon Kindle.
As librarians, we feel the most important thing children and teens can do during the summer is to become a Reading Hero and sign up for the Summer Reading Program. The role of summer reading in combatting the dreaded academic “summer slide” in children and teens has been demonstrated through a number of studies. Experts believe that children who read at least five books over the summer either maintain or improve their reading skills. In contrast, children who didn’t read any books in the summer experienced a decline in their reading skills by as much as one grade level.

The Summer Reading Program is designed to get children and teens excited about reading and continue healthy reading habits throughout the year. The program is so much more than just a reading log. The library buzzes all summer long with weekly storytimes, playgroups, performances, book groups, and workshops for children of all ages and their parents and caregivers. This summer we’re hosting musical performances by Groovy Nate and Oh Susannah!, shows by magicians, scientists, live reptile handlers, and theatrical performances by Impression Theatre and Bob Brown Puppets.

Special programs include writing and comic book workshops, Legos in the Library, Kawaii Felted Character and art journal tutorials, and HandyGirl 101. There will also be a weekly brain game and writing prompts for ages 7 and up. Registration is required for some programs, so visit us online at www.fallschurchva.gov/SummerReadingProgram or at the library for more details.

Parents rave about the program helping with motivation, fostering a love of reading, and providing free, safe summer fun; kids rave about finding new books that take them on adventures far away, whether they’re traveling the world with their families or reading in their backyard in The Little City.
Adults won’t be left out of the fun! After all, reading helps adults, too. Studies show that staying mentally stimulated can help prevent memory loss. For example, keeping track of each character in the Game of Thrones series – names, backgrounds, motivations, etc. – helps the reader create new brain pathways and strengthen existing ones. Reading is also proven to be a stress reliever and can improve focus and concentration for many adults. Reading 15-20 minutes a day can help tremendously.

Adults who sign up for the program, read five or more books, and return their reading log to the library will be entered in a raffle for book and library-related prizes including a brand new Amazon Kindle provided by the Library Foundation.

If you need book suggestions for readers of any age, we’re here to help! Feel free to ask any librarian about the books we’re reading or our favorite book recommendations. Whether you’ve read each book in the Percy Jackson series five times and need something new, or you need a book that will captivate your reluctant reader, or you need something with the right content for your second grader who reads at a fourth-grade level, we’ll help you find something among our 116,000 books, e-books, magazines, and audiobooks!

Registration for the Summer Reading Program starts on June 22 and continues until August 15. The Summer Reading Open House Kick-Off for children is June 24 from 1-5 p.m. and will feature balloon animals, crafts, glitter tattoos, and more. A full calendar of performances, workshops, and other events is available online at www.fallschurchva.gov/Library, at the library or by phone, 703-248-5034 (TTY 711).

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