What happens when two thirtysomething siblings relive the summer reading programs of their youth in an all-out battle of the books? The race is on as they read by the rules and keep tally on their logs to see who will be the ultimate reader by Labor Day 2010.

July 21, 2010

Kerry's Cringe-worthy Summer Reading Program Confession

Confession time has come, as per official rule #9.

No, it's not the time when I crawled under booths at the Hanover Mall's Friendly's Restaurant to greet my favorite librarian. I was four or five, and it was not summer, and that was probably more endearing than crippling (not counting the waitstaff and other customers that I bumped into).

It's also not the fact that, as an elementary school student, I regularly participated in two summer reading programs, at the local Duxbury Free Library and our other family favorite, the Tufts Library in Weymouth. That I did not allow myself to "double dip" books (marking them as read on both library's logs) is more obsessive than embarrassing.

It's not even that time four years ago when my then 4 1/2 year old daughter refused point blank to sign up for the summer reading program and I signed her up and did all the recording for the summer simply because it's what I wanted to do.

No, to truly experience my monumental summer reading program fail you have to go back to the Summer of 1982 when I was 9 1/2 years old and entering fifth grade. The theme had to do with pirates and seeking treasure. Each participant wrote his/her name on a brown paper ship that hung all summer long in the children's library. Every time you brought your reading log to the librarian, she would count the number of books you had read since the last visit and staple the corresponding number of gold paper coins to your ship.

As luck (!) would have it, my ship hung smack dab in the middle above an aisle of books. As the summer continued, I realized that adults had to duck under my cascade of coins to enter the stacks. My luck continued, as there were several mustard yellow foam cushions at the end of each aisle, including "mine". By the end of July, my favorite thing to do in the library was to sit on those foam loungers and "read" (aka, wait for adults) and listen in to what adults said when they'd pass under the S.S. Kerry. "Wow, look at all the coins", "That kid must love reading", "What a lot of books!". By early August, I had visions of having such a long trail of coins that even kids would have to duck. I was in gold coin ecstasy. I was ridiculous.

Fortunately, no one (parent or child) took me behind the library to give me the trimming down that I deserved. I never witnessed anyone grabbing streamers of coins off my ship, but I am certain (and even, in retrospect, hope) that it happened. While I have the utmost respect for children's librarians, and especially those who worked then at the DFL, I suspect (and, again, hope) that when they realized my sinister plot, they failed to credit my ship with the correct number of coins.

Instead of being forced to walk the literary plank, the 1982 reading program ended, peacefully, with the customary ice cream party. By the start of school, the children's room was stripped of pirate ships and coins...and I returned to being a regular reader at the library once again.

1 comment:

  1. Kerry - I think we definitely have the same competitive reading DNA... When I was 11 my elementary school had the reading caterpillar that snaked around the school; for every book you got a caterpillar segment with your name on it. And every 5 books it was lunch out with the principal (usually McDonald's, definitely a treat for an 11-y-o, and I'm sure no longer allowed). They finally asked me if I would mind no longer taking my 'prize', as I went out for lunch almost every week... Of course, as it was school it wasn't public enough to have unknown adults checking out who that Stefanie girl was with all the caterpiller circles was... Instead it was fellow students thinking 'not her again...' Hmm - wonder why my friends were a bit thin on the ground at that age...