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.