by Ruby Smart, Youth Services Manager
[Originally published in The Chillicothe Gazette]
In 1951, members of the Chillicothe Junior Civic League (JCL) started a summer reading program called Bookworm. Its purpose was to encourage kids to keep reading during summer break. In 1953, Burton Stevenson, the director of the Chillicothe Public Library, wrote a letter to JCL expressing an interest in collaborating on Bookworm.
In 1954, the first year of the partnership, the theme was Space Travel to the Planets. The program was for kids in first through sixth grades. Children were given paper rockets when they signed up and they charted their progress from Earth to each planet. One hundred and forty students registered and thirty-one finished the requirement of giving 20 oral book reports to JCL volunteers. Twenty-six children attended the finale party.
Over the years Bookworm has grown and evolved. Now anyone in the county at any of our nine locations can participate in Bookworm, from babies through adults. Last summer, we had 2,256 people register and 947 finish. Three hundred and fifteen attended the finale party. Several years ago, the library added a VolunTeen program that allows teens to earn volunteer hours and gain job experience.
Some things haven’t changed, though. We still partner with JCL and several other local organizations, including Adena Health System. We have the same trophy design (your parents and grandparents probably still have theirs!) and we continue to encourage kids to read in the summer. We don’t ask for book reports anymore, but there is a book log. Thanks to our partnership with Adena, we offer a healthy living component of Bookworm that encourages kids and adults to get moving in the summer!
As the library celebrates 65 years of Bookworm, it seems fitting that this year’s theme is similar to the first one: A Universe of Stories. It’s in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Bookworm takes off on Monday, June 3 at 5:30 p.m. at Northside Library with a magic show, face painting and snow cones! The final landing is on Thursday, July 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the Bolmer Shelter in Yoctangee Park with music from the Shazzbots, hot dogs from the Haute Doggerie, trophies, snow cones, a victory lap parade through the park, and a party at the city pool!
Pre-registration is available now on our website: www.crcpl.org. While you are there, check out all the great events we have planned for this summer at all nine locations of the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library.