Vernon Area Public Library gives summer reading a new look this year

Submitted by Becky Ferguson
Posted6/22/2020 12:17 PM

When staff at Vernon Area Public Library began thinking about this year's summer reading program -- a long-standing American tradition dating back to the late 1800s -- there were new factors to consider.

Because of the pandemic, families are coping with new pressures, including school and camp closures. Many are affected by economic or health insecurities. Local businesses are working hard to recover after being shuttered or limited for months. Plus the library building would likely remain closed through the summer. The reading program had to be low-key, something that could be done at home and benefit the community at large.


The result, "Summer Camp," is a flexible, all-ages program that runs throughout June and July and is community-focused. Participants choose what they would like to do and when.

"We wanted to make it more of a banquet than an obligation. Very low pressure," said library spokesperson Catherine Savage.

Anyone can participate by reading or doing activities. As library district residents complete themed camp sessions like travel or music, they are entered into weekly raffles. All raffle prizes are gift cards or certificates for restaurants and businesses in the area, helping boost the local economy.

A new component, "Read for Good," tallies participants' reading time toward a cumulative monthly goal of 250,000 minutes. When that mark is hit, camp sponsors -- including businesses and individuals -- will donate to one of three local charities of their choice.

The beneficiaries of the Read for Good fundraising are the Vernon Township Food Pantry, Stevenson: One Family and the Lake County COVID-19 Community Response Fund. All are working locally to help neighbors in need.

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"The library wants to put as much back into our community as we can," Savage said.

The Summer Camp program is open to any age.

"Because, honestly, there are a lot of adults who could use a coloring page right about now," Savage said.

The suggested reading lists are differentiated by age group: children, teens and adults. Activities, both online and offline, as well as reading suggestions are listed on the Summer Camp website each week. Participants can join in for one week, a few or all, through July. For more information visit

For more information about the library and its services, visit

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