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Summer Reading Program: choose the coupons!

As with past summers, Multnomah County Library hosts the Summer Reading Program at a branch near you. Kids sign up and receive a game board, where each session of reading (or being read to) equates to a marked-off space along the path.  There are three segments along the path, and when you reach one of three milestones, you can bring your game board into the library for a stamp and a prize.

... a *PRIZE*.  The prize box contains a dizzying array of brightly-colored knicks and knacks, perhaps a paper accordion fan, a shiny metallic bead necklace, a deck of miniature playing cards, a shoe-shaped key chain.  Sift through those wonderful prizes, and you will also come upon a tupperware of coupons, admittedly less shiny and bright.  The treasures within that coupon box include: a free pastry/cinnamon roll at Grand Central Bakery, a pair of free tickets to the Portland Youth Philharmonic, a free bambino scoop at Mio Gelato, buy-one-get-one admission at the Children's Museum, a free skate and rental at Lloyd Center Ice, and plenty of other goodies.  

Of course, paper with the promise of fun or treats is not nearly as appealing as the shiny stuff.  I negotiated long and hard with my two girls, with gentle nudging knowing full well I couldn't exactly force them into anything.  The elder choose to hold to her own: opting for a shiny necklace for her first milestone prize (don't we have about 59 of those already in the dress-up box?) and a deck of miniature cards for her second (I think she's lost a few cards from the deck; I've seen them on the floor). The younger, I was able to convince, with promises of "just you & me quality time" as we went to go share our free pastry at Grand Central together.  She looked forward to our pastry date the whole week!  And, now she is looking forward to her gelato date with her dad.

Every time I see a child going through the coupon box, I look longingly at that folded-up 8x10 paper that represents two tickets to the Portland Youth Philharmonic wondering: has anyone's child actually claimed that prize?  Was it a wonderful time just you & child?  Or do kids mostly take home the prize box stuff? Tell me I'm not the only mama who would rather have a free skate/rental at Lloyd Center than a paper accordion fan.

I should mention that the Summer Reading Program has some great sponsors to be able to offer t-shirts every year and really great finishing prizes like a $4 discounted deluxe bracelet to Oaks Park, discounted/free Blazers tickets and so many other prizes along the way.

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Nice shirts indeed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7230309@N05/4842397063/

My son, in the picture, got a book first and the second time a jump rope.

We chose the PYP option! And i'm looking forward to using it!

That is so funny...I had an identical experience.
I really hate the cheap toys we collect --our kindly old neighbor shops for our kids at the dollar store on a weekly basis -- that just end up breaking and going into the landfill in less than a week.
But, my daughter opted for a styrofoam glider that looked like a pickle...which broke in two as she pulled it out of the package.
But then she also chose a really great book, that I love reading to her, and she's already memorized.
Since my son is only ten months old and had no clue what was happening, he 'chose' two tokens to Staccato Gelato. ..which my husband and I plan on stealing from him. What? We did do all the reading!

I wonder if these are available at all branches? My kids say they didn't see a box of coupons at Gresham or Midland...but they don't always see things, either.

I managed to convince both my kids to choose vouchers for the Oregon Childrens Theatre. Each voucher gets us 2 tickets to see Alice in Wonderland in Nov. The sweet girl working the table also let them pick a toy from the box so everyone was happy. I cant wait for the whole family to see this performance.

Until the age of 6 it was impossible to convince my kids to take the coupons instead of the plastic toys. But then, suddenly, they were able to comprehend that yeah, an entire cinnamon roll from Grand Central would be a nifty treat. This year I nudged them toward the Lloyd Center ice rink coupons. ($18 value!) We spent four solid hours there one hot day - them skating, me reading. Win-win! We love the library.

So, Lea's comment reminded me that I've been meaning to find out ... are kids of ANY age eligible? The link above doesn't make it clear. I assumed it was for kids who could read to themselves. If not, we've really been missing out!!

The coupons at Midland look great in theory but they are basically all gone and have been since almost the beginning of this summer. I was hoping they'd get more.

AT, reading aloud to kids definitely counts.

My babe is only 10 months and we are participating in the summer reading program. They have it available starting at birth. They have a "level' for birth to pre-school. For this age group it includes reading to your baby, letting them explore books, singing songs, playing baby games too. It's great. We've picked free book for her prize.

Thanks for highlighting Summer Reading in your blog! I'm a mom of 2 girls (ages 5 & 7) and also coordinate Multnomah County Library's Summer Reading program. I'm glad to hear that so many of you are enjoying it, and appreciate everyone's comments.

(I've also had the same experiences negotiating with my kids on which prizes they would select. Last year my pitch for Ben & Jerry's ice cream fell on deaf ears. *sigh*)

To reiterate HLH's post - Yes! Summer Reading is for all children from birth through high school. You can estimate time spent reading from June 18-now, so come in and sign up!

My son chose the PYP tickets! I'm so excited. For his first prize, he did choose one of the inane prizes that probably broke or got lost within minutes of getting home, so I guess that made an impression on him. For the next prize, he seemed really intrigued by the prizes, and I was certain he'd pick the toy store one (which made me cringe again, as I assume the "free" prizes at that toy store are probably of similar quality), but lo' to my surprise, he wanted the concert one. He loved that there were two of them, and we could make it a "date." I can't wait. (And am hoping to convince one of our friends to employ some gentle pressure to get their child to choose it too, so we can go together.)

I'll make the most of it...

I follow you VIA GFC and I love your blog!

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