Young readers in Osoyoos are going places.
Every Tuesday evening, the Osoyoos branch of the Okanagan Regional Library invites elementary-aged children in the community to “Book a Trip” and participate in the library’s summer reading club.
“It’s a great program to encourage kids to continue reading throughout the whole summer, not just at the school year,” explains Joanne Schaffrick, an Assistant Community Librarian.
“It’s a free program for any child in elementary school.”
The reading club launched July 5 and runs through August 28. The library gets a little unruly 6 and 7:15 p.m.
Opening night, the students “booked a trip” to the Osoyoos Desert Centre and learned all about the desert and the plants and animals that inhabit it.
“[The program] is something we want the community to be involved in so we have different programs — like the Desert Centre here tonight — come in and work with the kids,” said Joanne.
“We hand out a worksheet to the kids so they have it ahead of time and they colour it. They know the theme that’s coming up. And they bring it in and we have a draw for the colouring or activity.”
Scheduled through the summer are local author Sue Whittaker (July 12), Wildsafe BC (July 26), the Osoyoos Museum (August 2) and local actor Trevor Leigh on August 9.
The program wraps up with a special Monday visit by Uncle Chris the Clown on August 29. Uncle Chris will bring his special form of magic into the library.
Between 40 and 60 children are expected to attend each session, including a number who drop in while visiting the community.
“People do drop in for one night of the program.,” said Joanne. “Kids usually love it, because there’s different things to do then and they can get out.”
The local program is part of a provincial campaign — the BC Summer Reading Club. The provincial program also has an Osoyoos connection.
Author Lee Edward Fodi, who was raised in Osoyoos, provided illustrations for this season’s program.
Growing up on a farm, he recently told CBC, he didn’t get to travel much during the summer months.
“Books were my vacation during the summer. That’s how I did get to go visit different places. Books were instrumental to my adventure in the summer.”
That summer schedule was also instrumental to his success as a writer.
“I had a lot of time to daydream,” he explained. “Because working on the farm there’s a lot of different repetitive tasks, like picking cherries or cleaning the chicken coops, I had great fuel, great day-dreaming time.”
Lee now encourages young writers to follow in his footsteps. But he also tells them it’s more work than talent.
“A lot of people, especially kids, will look at what I do now and sometimes I think there’s a misconception or belief that people who work in this industry were somehow born with this talent or magical ability,” he says.
“I always try to show them the books I wrote when I was their age, which were actually terrible.”
As to being part of the summer reading program, Lee says it’s an honour and an important part of his work.
“The wonderful thing about this program is it seems to be a tradition in a lot of families. Their children take it year after year after year and I think it gives them a really good structure. The material is absolutely gorgeous and really fun.
“It really injects a lot of fun and enthusiasm into reading.”
For more information about the BC Summer reading Club, visit www.bcsrc.ca.