Game on!


Library starts summer reading program for all ages

One of the St. Albert Public Library’s most popular programs is back, now that school is out for the summer.

The Summer Reading Game sees participation of between 1,200 and 1,500 school-aged children in grades 1 and up. Drew Thomas, the library assistant with Children’s Services, said that the kids are going to absolutely love The Great Museum Escape this time around.

“The story is that on the last day of school, on a field trip to the museum, the kids are having fun until lightning strikes the museum and all the doors lock, all the windows seal and all the exhibits come to life. They’re trying to escape the museum so they can have a proper summer vacation.”

This is accomplished by having each participant go through each of the exhibits in the programming room and find clues in each of the rooms, that will lead them “hopefully” to finding a way out.

The participants have to explore themed rooms about Native Americans, the Seven Seas, the Wild West room, ancient Egypt, and Camelot.

“It’s going to be a good one!” he exclaimed. Some kids read so much that they finish the game four or five times, he added.

For the kids who are too young, there’s a preschool game called Lost on Dino Island. It’s for tots aged three to kindergarten age.

Thomas described the scenario.

“They’re taking a vacation on Dino Island where a baby dinosaur has gone missing. They have decided to help out the dinosaurs and they’re going to track down the baby dinosaur,” he said.

There’s usually 200 to 300 preschool aged kids who take in that program too. This influx of program participants makes for a flood of book-loving readers, he said.

“This is our time when things ramp up and get a bit crazier, but we love it. We’ve got more kids coming in the library than any other time of the year. We have more people coming in just because of these games. It’s a long summer but the first few weeks are always the most fun when we have so many kids that we get to talk to and interact with directly, and help them find books … and make it a good summer for them.”

There will also be a wrap up party for all of the participants at the end of the game.

Teens get a game too

Kids aren’t the only ones being enticed into reading for fun at the library. Teen services co-ordinator Alison Watson said that there’s a museum for the 12 to 18 age group too.

They will achieve this with different rooms including Stargazing at the Planetarium that will feature fantasy and steampunk, House of Wax for the horror story lovers, and all other kinds of genres too.

“The whole goal is to try and get them reading more! Teens get to choose. We’re not forcing them to read any particular genre.”

Teens comprise a sizable percentage of the library’s user base, she continued, especially during the summer. Just this last week, for instance, she has noticed a strong influx of people from that age group checking out paperbacks and ebooks as well.

There are also literacy challenges and drop-in programs that run throughout the summer.

Prizes for the teen game include an iPod Nano, a Kobo Aura eReader, or $150 in Chapters gift cards.

The adult program

The Reading Wheel is back for the adult summer reading program. Adult programming librarian Michelle Papineau-Couture said that the object of this game is mostly just in getting the adult book lovers to read outside of their comfort zones.

“Our focus is on encouraging to read things they normally would not,” she said.

She evaluated the program last year and got a very positive response to the set up.

“A lot of our comments were ‘I would have never read this’ or ‘Because of this game, I discovered this amazing book of poetry’. We had one gentleman who had spun romance and he actually submitted a book review about the book he had read. That was pretty cool too. I think that’s what people like.”

Much like the kids game, the theme is the Museum of Summer Reading. Adults are encouraged to spin the wheel to discover and rediscover forms of literature.

“The idea is you come in and explore the rooms of a museum. You spin the wheel and it’s going to land on a particular genre and you’re going to have to read a book from that genre and a book of your choice. We’re keeping it very easy.”

Doing so allows the participant to enter into weekly prize draws. There will be a draw for a Kobo e-reader at the end of the summer game as well. The more you read, the more entries you can submit.

“They can also write an anonymous book review too. That can take the place of one book so then you’d only have to read one book and write a book review and you could enter that way too.”

Library staffers can also help with the task, offering suggestions for titles within genres that readers are unfamiliar with.

“We have lots of help for them to find a book.”

Unlike the children’s Summer Reading program, adults don’t need to register.

“They just come up and spin. We try and catch them downstairs at the children’s game. All the parents are coming in and we just say, ‘hey! Run upstairs, spin the wheel and play too. The staff plays as well. We play against each other. There is one staff member here… she plows through books. She tends to have the most entries.”

Much like the children’s program, however, there will be a wrap up party. This one will feature an audience sing-along participation screening of Mamma Mia, the 2008 movie version of the stage musical based on the songs of Swedish disco supergroup ABBA, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Amanda Seyfried. It’s rated PG for some mild coarse language and nudity. Participants – both adults and teens – are encouraged to dress up for that event as well.

All summer reading programs run until Tuesday, August 19. For more information, call 780-459-1530 or visit People can always visit the library in person as well and talk to a librarian about them too.


About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.