What a wonderful community we have here in Virginia!  Especially when it comes to reading.  I’m just starting to compile our summer reading program reports and am astounded at our preliminary numbers.  We’ve broken all previous records with 972 children participating in our summer reading program.  This is a fantastic number that begs to be broken again next year by hitting the 1,000 mark.  However, our reading program isn’t about numbers, it’s about reading.  Along that line, the kids who chose to count their reading by books read more than 10,000 books in two months. Those who chose to count by pages read more than 200,000 pages.  And those kids who decided to write a review for their peers wrote more than 5,000 reviews. Isn’t this astounding?
While I would like to take the credit for every single book, page, and written review, I know that isn’t fair.  After all, these are children who don’t drive.   While several children walk to our library, the majority are brought to the library by their parents, grandparents, neighbors, babysitters, or even by the amazingly patient staff at their childcare center.  Considering the number of activities throughout our community, and the number of warm days this year, the dedication of these people to bring their children to the library in order keep them reading throughout the summer is amazing!
The credit goes even farther than that:  It extends to the many people who have worked hard all year to make sure we have the funds and means to provide such a successful program.  While the Friends of the Library have traditionally supported our summer reading program, they were joined this year by members of the Roosevelt and Parkview PTA, the Virginia Area Women of Today,  the Quad Cities Rotary Club and several businesses who provided incentives.  I saw more than a few children’s eyes light up when they received free coupons from McDonalds Restaurant as part of their midpoint prize.  In addition, I heard many kids gasp when they were handed a certificate for a free meal at Perkins as part of their final prize.  With the numbers in our program, all the work and monetary donations that these groups have made have reaped a hefty benefit to our community.
All these fantastic numbers are tied together and that tie was heavily underscored by the good news regarding Virginia students’ reading scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.  So, while I am gleefully exhausted at the conclusion of our 2012 Summer Reading Program, I am even more thankful for our fantastic reading community. 

Thank you, Virginia!

— Dawn Heisel, Public Services Librarian