By Amanda Rogers
After two years of COVID-19 and another of library renovation, the Mansfield Public Library is gearing up for a busy Summer Reading Challenge.
“We are so excited,” said Julie Crisafulli, youth service librarian. “This feels like the first normal summer. Last year we had renovation, before that we had COVID. We are really excited to be back to normal.”
The library has two components to the Summer Reading Challenge: reading and programs. The programs range from their story times and magic shows to tea parties and science heroes.
“All of our story time performers are coming in Professor Brainius, Creature Teacher,” Crisafulli said. “We had (Creature Teacher) last year and it was so popular. We reached the capacity of the gym at 600. We are having the same program back to back so we can accommodate more people with smaller crowds. First one is 10:30 a.m., the second 11:30 a.m. on June 21.”
All of the programs are free, but some do require participants to register. Registrations for the programs will open two weeks before the event.
“We expect many of programs to be very popular and they fill up fast,” Crisafulli said.
The Summer Reading Challenge kicks off with a party at 10 a.m. June 1 at Katherine Rose Memorial Park, 303 N. Walnut Creek Drive. The library will partner with the Mansfield Parks & Recreation Department and have pop-up playtime and signing people up for the summer reading challenge.
Because, of course, there is reading. Instead of focusing on the number of minutes, though, the library is asking participants to log how many days they read this summer.
“All ages can join the challenge from 0-100,” Crisafulli said. “You would log what day, whether 15 minutes or an hour. This just simplifies it across the board. The goal is to read 20 days this summer.
“The more you read the greater your chance for our grand prize,” she said. “We’ve got grand prizes for all ages, for adults, a Taste of Mansfield prize pack with gift cards, for coffee lovers a gift pack from Flying Squirrel and a DIY macron making kit.”
The focus is on elementary and middle school readers, so there will be extra prizes for that group, including a Kindle Fire HD8 Kids Pro, author-signed books, Squishmallows, a giant candy basket from AndiMac Candy Shack.
“If they read five days they get a treasure chest prize, 10 days a drawstring bag, 15 days a book of their choice, 20 days a book of their choice,” Crisafulli said.
Families can log their hours on the Beanstack tracker app at Mansfieldtexas.gov/src, plus a list of all of the special programs. The deadline to log hours is 11:59 p.m. July 26, and the grand prize drawing will be July 27.
The challenge wraps up with an end-of-summer party at 10 a.m. July 28 at the Mansfield Activities Center, 106 S. Wisteria St., with bounce houses, prizes and pop-up play time.
And there is a bonus this year. Everyone age 17 and younger can get a free lunch from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday at the library through the Mansfield ISD Student Nutrition Services, except on Juneteenth and the week of Independence Day.
“They can come to the morning program, stay for lunch, read and win prizes,” Crisafulli said.
The point is to keep youngsters reading throughout the summer.
“There’s a large body of research that kids can lose up to two to three months of learning in the summer,” Crisafulli said. “Teachers know that when they get back in the fall. We try to keep them engaged and keep them learning in the summer, especially for kids that don’t have access to books at home.
“We’ll see kids walking out with stacks of books and coming back for more,” she said. “The more they read, the more they stick with it. We’re privileged to do it here.”
To register or find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge, click here.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.