The New Market Area Library Summer Reading Programs for Children have been a staple for many years (except for 2020, when no programs were held. In 2021, when only a virtual program with the Museum of Frontier Culture, and an outdoor program with the high school marching band.)
The Summer Reading Program has two parts. The first is the reading incentive program through which children (and teens, too!) read books and fill out a reading log to get a free book and prizes at the end of summer. The second part of summer reading is the enrichment events for children from birth to 5th grade, with a goal of providing quality and fun-filled options programs for children in summer.
Some “graduates” of the children’s summer reading program have returned to the library as teens and young adults to work as volunteers with summer reading. Since the library has no paid staff, having volunteers year-round is crucial to providing services. Without volunteers, including adult volunteers who make up the Children’s Program Planning Team, the library would not have the summer reading program!
This past summer, two young adults who graduated from college in the spring, returned to volunteer with the library’s summer reading program events. Both had volunteered as teens, and during the summers while in college. How rewarding it is to have former children’s program participants return as teens and young adults!
Rachel Lute graduated from Eastern Mennonite College in 2022 and is a first-year Pre-Kindergarten teacher at McGaheysville Elementary School in Rockingham County.
Karen is a retired educator with Shenandoah County Public Schools and is originally from Hardy Co WV. She volunteers in the community when possible.Rachel started volunteering during the summer before she was a junior because she needed volunteer hours for a class that she was taking.
She says “I loved it so much that I kept doing it!” Rachel got lots of ideas for her future career as an early childhood teacher from helping with library children’s programs. She also helped the “Wonderful Ms. Whitford” (band teacher from North Fork Middle School in Shenandoah County, who does a children’s program for the library most summers, usually with her husband Shane Ring). Because Rachel was in the band in middle and high school, she felt it was an opportunity to give back to Ms. Whitford “for all the amazing things she taught me.” Lute also loved interacting with the children and their families, and working with other volunteers! Now that she is a Pre-Kindergarten teacher, she says “I can now use all the different activities I saw into my own classroom. It’s funny how everything comes around full circle.”
Caiden Thompson does not remember when they started volunteering for the summer reading program at the New Market Area Library, but it was either late middle school or the start of high school. Thompson says “the reason why I volunteered is because I grew up with the summer reading program and I wanted to be able to volunteer for the thing that made my summers better as a young kid.” Thompson’s favorite thing about volunteering is “watching the kids grow up every year and the program that Ms. Whitford does every year since I get to play the drums again.” Thompson continued volunteering with the library summer reading program events during the summers while in high school and college because it forced them to “have a decent sleep schedule at least once a week.” Giving back to the program is very important to Thompson, who graduated from George Mason University this spring with a degree in new media arts, and is now back at home in New Market while exploring job opportunities in animation.
Two high schoolers from Mountain View High School volunteered during the summer of 2022. Charlotte Weaver is junior and a National Honor Society member, and is required to have volunteer community service hours. Since she was a participant in summer reading programs, it was a natural fit to volunteer at the New Market Area Library this summer. Alex Pastalove, a freshman at MVHS, also attended summer reading events and did the reading incentive program when she was younger and started volunteering at the summer reading program this year. Not only is it rewarding to have students previously part of children’s summer reading events come back in a volunteer capacity, it keeps the program going!
In years past, other high school students who have participated as volunteers have included baseball players helping with the annual Reading with the Rebels event. In addition to MVHS NHS volunteers, Shenandoah Valley Academy National Honor students have also volunteered to earn community service hours. The next teen volunteer opportunity is helping at the library for Trick or Treat on Congress Street on October 31, from 5 to 7 pm at the library (located on Lee Street just east of Congress Street!)