The Brownwood Public Library will have plenty of events to keep kids busy throughout June and July as part of its summer reading program.

Summer reading program activities kickoff Thursday, when the San Angelo Symphony comes to town for a 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. performance inside the Adams Street Community Center and BPL Director Becky Isbell believes that is just a snapshot of what kids have in store this summer.

“There are two elements to it,” Isbell said. “There are the programs, which definitely are fun and the kids enjoy them, but there is also educational aspects too. Whether it’s the animal programs through the Abilene Zoo, teaching them different biological things — and they do a different thing every year — or the symphony comes in and teaches them with what I believe is going to be a harp and that is going to be on Thursday.”

Isbell said the library has had its summer reading program for decades, with the main motivation being staving off the summer slide — a term for when students forget many of the lessons learned from the previous school year during their summer vacation. 

“It encourages kids to read during the summer,” Isbell said. “They talk about the summer slide, when kids lose several grade-points over the summer that the teachers then have to spend several of the first months of the new school year bringing them back up to where they were during the last school year. Activities like this, where they are keeping their brains active, are great ways to prevent summer slide.”

One way to keep kids coming through the doors, and reinforcing lessons learned throughout the school year, is to invite programs to the library such as Thursday’s symphony performance and next Thursday’s visit from the Abilene Zoo. June 22, a park ranger from Dinosaur Valley National Park will give a presentation regarding the ancient beasts that once roamed Glen Rose. June 28, area kids will receive a visit from Amazing Science. July 5 kids can spend the day reading with a therapy dog and a week later the Texas A&M Forest Service will drop by for a few lessons. The program wraps up July 19 with tunes and tales.

“The summer reading club is definitely one of our most popular programs of the year,” Isbell said. “People come in and ask us when signups start. It’s something a lot of people know about and definitely something a lot of people in our community don’t know about. It’s a great way to get people into the library. It’s not just here’s the fun prize, now go read. There are educational programs as well and things that are not boring. It’s another tool to prevent summer slide and keep those kids learning.”

One change coming this year is the Read and Bead initiative. Similar to a merit badge system implemented by scouts, participants receive beads to correspond with the number of minutes spent reading and will receive a special ‘brag tag’ if they reach the optimum goal of 525 minutes. Isbell believes that will give them more of a sense of accomplishment with each completed text.

“To start, they can choose a key chain or a necklace and they get what we call a brag tag,” Isbell said. “They can choose one of four designs to start the necklace and every 15 minutes they can earn a bead. There are beads with higher values. We have glow-in-the-dark beads, glitter beads, metallic beads and the big beads are shaped like sports balls, dolphins, elephants and things like that. The advantage to doing things this way is it increases the intrinsic value of reading. It’s a lot more directly tied. Kids will think, I have read 15 minutes and it has a direct correlation.”

For more information regarding the summer reading program visit the BPL website or visit them on Facebook.