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Dog days of summer reading

Colt Elementary School fourth-grader Donovan Finke peruses the children’s collection at the Marble Falls Public Library alongside his reading buddy, Frank, an Australian Cobberdog. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Every Monday, Frank, a 3-year-old white Australian Cobberdog from Horseshoe Bay, reads books with children at the Marble Falls Public Library

“It’s a way for young readers to build confidence,” said library Director Amanda Rose. 

The therapy dog’s silent, calming, and neutral demeanor is critical to helping kids become more comfortable with reading aloud through the library’s Reading Unleashed program, which is year-round.

“When they spend time reading to a dog, they’re in this non-judgmental reading environment,” Rose said. “You don’t have someone correcting you. There’s no intimidation. You just have a listener.”

Reading isn’t the only thing that kids get more comfortable with after meeting Frank, Rose said.

“We’ve had families come in just for the opportunity to meet a dog because their kids were scared,” she said. “It’s definitely a side benefit.”

Reading Unleashed and the library’s other programs go into overdrive once students are released from school for the summer.

“Summer reading is one of our core programs because it’s a time when kids have the time to come to the library,” Rose said. “It brings them culture and educational programs, free of charge.”

A focus on summer reading helps stop the “summer slide,” a phrase that refers to students losing some of what they learned during the school year over the lazy, hazy days of summer. 

“Kids have to read over the summer,” Rose said. “It’s so important.”

Research conducted by the Texas Education Agency in 2020 showed just how much knowledge children can lose during the summer months. Students can forget up to 2½ months worth of learned instruction from June to August, according to the study.

The Marble Falls Public Library’s summer reading program is committed to stopping that slide in its tracks with fun programs.

“Teachers love our programs,” Rose said. “They want their kids to be here.”

The library’s reward system is one of the biggest draws.

“We have lots of prizes,” Rose said. “We have an airplane ride, tickets to SeaWorld, Six Flags, horseback riding, and cash prizes. It’s a lot of fun.”

The program lets participants earn points in a myriad of ways.

“If a parent reads to a child, that counts,” Rose said. “Reading to babies is just as important as kids reading to themselves. It’s very important for their development.”

Kids can log their reading minutes on an app called Beanstack and redeem them for tickets to win prizes.

“We’ll have a drawing at the end of the program to determine the winners,” Rose said. “All kids have a chance to win, but the more they read, the more tickets they get, and the higher chance they have to win.”

Other scheduled programs are designed to draw large audiences.

“These programs are loud,” Rose said. “There’s this stigma that the library always has to be quiet or boring or dull. We want to flip that on its head.”

She is especially excited about an upcoming visit from reptile handler Danny Conner, who will be in the library at 10:30 a.m. June 6.

“All you have to say is ‘reptiles,’ and you have people’s attention,” Rose said with a laugh.

Trick dog Gryffindor brings his special talents to the library at 10:30 a.m. June 13.

“We’ve wanted this one for a long time,” Rose said. “He’s been on our list for a while.”

All of the programs share a similar message.

“The performers always work something in about reading or learning, or how they got started ‘happened to be in a library,’ just to pique that curiosity of our young readers,” Rose said.

Summer reading programs have proven their merits over the years as kids continually discover more books to read.

“It’s always a big win when we see the kids walk out with an armful of books,” Rose said.

For a deeper dive into all of the Marble Falls Public Library’s programs, visit marblefallslibrary.org or call 830-693-3023.

Check out the schedules below for the summer reading programs at the Marble Falls, Burnet, Bertram, Kingsland, and Spicewood libraries.

MARBLE FALLS LIBRARY 

101 Main St.; 830-693-3023; marblefallslibrary.org

All June events are at 10:30 a.m. All July events are at 3 p.m.

  • JUNE 6 — Reptile Adventure
  • JUNE 13 — Gryffindor the trick dog
  • JUNE 20 —Magic of Science
  • JUNE 27 — Magic/Magia bilingual magic show
  • JULY 11 — Texas State Parks program on snakes
  • JULY 18 — Nature Center program on pollination
  • JULY 26 —Epic Gameshow awards ceremony and pizza party

HERMAN BROWN FREE LIBRARY 

101 E. Washington St. in Burnet; 512-715-5228; hermanbrownlibrary.org

  • JUNE 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. — Registration kickoff at the library with games and crafts
  • JUNE 12 at 2 p.m. — The Astonishing Mr. Pitts show with comedy, puppets, and magic at theAgriLife Extension building, 607 N. Vanderveer in Burnet
  • JUNE 26 at 3 p.m. — A Real Mad Hatter show with bubbles and puppets at the AgriLife Extension building
  • JULY 3 at 3 p.m. — Independence Brigade at the library with patriotic parade around square
  • JULY 24 from 10:30 a.m. to noon — Foam party for kids with at least six hours of summer reading at Haley-Nelson Park, 200 Garden Trail in Burnet. Drawings for the library’s reading rewards program will also be held at this time.

BERTRAM LIBRARY 

170 N. Gabriel St.; 512-355-2113, bertramlibrary.org

All events are at 10:30 a.m. at the library unless noted otherwise.

  • JUNE 1 at 10 a.m. — Summer Reading Kickoff with Austin Steam Train
  • JUNE 7 — Karate Dance Party
  • JUNE 12 — Talewise Science Show
  • JUNE 21 — John O’Bryant Magic Show
  • JUNE 27 — Wildlife on the Move
  • JULY 10 — The Singing Zoologist
  • JULY 13 — Austin Steam Train
  • JULY 18 — Hot Toast Music
  • JULY 24 — PEC Meet a Lineman
  • JULY 27 — Miniature golf and Austin Steam Train visit
  • JULY 31 — Chemistry Road Show

KINGSLAND LIBRARY

125 Polk St.; 325-388-3170

Summer reading programs in June.

  • JUNE 3 from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. — Registration kickoff
  • WEDNESDAYS from noon to 2 p.m. — Lego Club free play
  • THURSDAYS from 10-11 a.m. —Splash Day with large pools and sprinklers
  • FRIDAYS from noon to 4 p.m. — Family Fun Day
  • JUNE 28 from noon to 1 p.m. — Awards day

SPICEWOOD COMMUNITY LIBRARY

1011 Spur 191; 830-693-7892, spicewoodlibrary.org

All events from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the library.

  • JUNE 8 — Reading Adventure
  • JUNE 15 — Reptile Adventures
  • JUNE 22 — Outdoor Adventures
  • JUNE 29 — Birdwatching Adventure
  • JULY 13 — Camping Adventure, July 13
  • JULY 20 — Prize Adventure, July 20

nathan@thepicayune.com