Readers Roundup

La Jolla Library concluded a stellar summer reading program with near record participation and one very excited teenager. Homeschooled library patron Belisha Genin, 13, won an iPad for her participation in the program.

Youth Librarian Bill Mallory presented Belisha with her iPad Aug. 21 at the 7555 Draper Ave. library. “We’re so glad we get to give this prize to a La Jolla Library patron, especially one who loves to read, like she does,” he said.

Others who completed the citywide summer reading challenge – by logging 10 hours of reading or reading 10 books – each received a gift bag full of goodies, and were entered into a drawing to win an iPad. The San Diego Central Library provided three iPads for the winners — one for toddlers, one for ages 3-11, and one for ages 12-18.

“I like reading very much, and it’s that much more fun when you can win something,” La Jolla resident Belisha said of her participation. An avid reader, she prefers fantasy and action books, and has too many favorites to name. She said she appreciated getting to choose the books she would read to meet the program requirements.

“You get to read whatever you want, which to me is better rather than being forced or told what to read,” she said. “I’m happy the library is offering us really good books.”

Belisha said she would join the program again next summer and encouraged other young people to do the same. “Reading is interesting and fun ... and it’s a different experience from watching TV or listening to something,” she said.

Mallory explained the City of San Diego facilitates the summer reading program, but the La Jolla branch adds its own special touch. “Studies have shown that if kids read during the summer, their brains become more active, they forget less of what they learned during the previous year, and they are ready for the new school year at a much faster pace,” he said.

The gift bag participants receive includes restaurant coupons, museum passes and age-appropriate toys. Pre-teens get ear-buds and younger readers get their choice of a recorder or inflatable guitar.

But La Jolla goes the extra mile. “Not every branch does this, but at La Jolla, for every 10 books kids read beyond the required 10, we give them a free book along with their gift bag,” Mallory said. “We have some really good community members who donate these great books and we make sure we give them out to the children as a further incentive.”

Another component of La Jolla’s summer reading program is the special guests. More than once, animal ambassador organizations visited the library for live animal shows. Afterward, they’d show their audience where to find books on animals “to bridge the gap between what they love and how they can read about it,” Mallory said.

The La Jolla Library had 679 young readers sign up this summer, and more than 350 completed the program. It officially ends at the end of August, so readers still have a chance to log their hours/books and collect their prizes.