“Studies show kids are more comfortable reading to a pet who doesn’t judge them,” said McGinty. “It’s really cute. We had it a few years ago and then we brought it back in May.”
McGinty said attendance at Youth Services activities and programs this year is at an all-time high. Some performances of the kid’s summer concert series had more than 300 in attendance. And on some reading check-in days nearly 100 children visit the library.
She thinks the high numbers are because the programs offered have gotten better over the years and have also been better marketed.
For instance, the life-sized Candyland game is not an original idea; it’s something found in a library journal. But by using the whole library as the game board, the Youth Services staff changed the idea to fit their needs and got children as young as 1 year old walking through the shelves of the library’s children’s section.
The board was set up to exactly match the library’s version of the board game (multiple versions have been released over the years). The children were then able to visit Queen Frostine, Princess Lolly, Lord Licorice and Gluppy the Chocolate Monster along the way.
Heikki Levasalmi, 10, and brother Matti, 8, played the game with their mother, Lisa. Their older sister Ella, 14, was playing the part of Princess Lolly next to the Candy Castle. The boys pretended not to recognize their sister when they reached the end.
“Every summer we do the reading programs,” said Lisa Levasalmi. “They love it … I think it motivates them to read more because of the prizes and they can go online to track their progress. They think it’s neat.”
McGinty said that’s the goal.
“That’s why we do these programs, so the kids continue to read,” she said. “We love working with them. Anything we can do to get them in the doors.”