Winter Reading Challenge offers cozy fun for all ages
The Ellsworth family had two exciting events on December 1 – the first day to open an Advent calendar door, and the first day to preregister for The Library’s annual Winter Reading Challenge.
“Those were the two things the kids were looking forward to,” says Coralee Ellsworth, mom to Annie, 12; Mabel, 9; and Jem, 4. “The joy of books and the magical world that is the library is something I’ve always wanted to make sure they don’t lose as they grow older.’’
Everyone loves a summer read, but The Library has always believed that winter reading deserves some love, too. Cozying up with a book and reading something that’s not assigned offers its own kind of getaway from the cold weather raging outside.
“I’ve always tried really hard to not push certain books but to let them explore and see what they like,’’ Ellsworth says. “When they do the Winter Reading Challenge, it’s like the whole world of The Library is open to them.”
The Library’s Winter Reading Challenge runs from December 20 through February 28, encouraging kids and adults to read just one book a month
“This is much more fun and much more focused on thinking about what you’re reading,” says The Library’s Youth Services Administrator Hannah Killian. “It encourages you to read during the cozy winter months and cuddle up with some hot chocolate or tea or whatever you want to drink. If you want a hot toddy, that’s fine.”
The Winter Reading Challenge was only for adults in the past, but The Library added a children’s portion in recent years. The Ellsworth family, including dad Brant, an avid audiobook listener, makes every reading challenge a family affair.
“The kids keep us on our toes,” says Coralee, a part-time public services assistant for The Library. “If they see my husband reading a book, they’ll ask, ‘Dad, did you log that?’”
While Reading Bingo challenges have been circulating on the internet, The Library opted for a simpler tic-tac-toe challenge, allowing readers to complete the challenge with only three books.
The Winter Reading Challenge also makes itself accessible through a broad range of categories that readers can interpret as they wish. Each category comes with suggestions, but the sky’s the limit on how readers interpret the selections.
This year’s nine categories and some of the suggested readings include “Snow,” so you might read about President Snow in The Hunger Games, and “Animals or Pets,” so maybe you’ll head to Dewey section 590 in The Library for a nonfiction book on animals.
The Library’s tic-tac-toe grid has one category in each box. Participants who check off three boxes in a row earn a prize – to be determined, but possibly a notebook and colored pencils – and are entered to win one of 27 gift cards, nine each for children, teens, and adults.
“Especially this year, here’s another fun little game you can play and think about what you’re reading and make a little plan to read with your kids,” says Killian.
Kids can certainly appreciate the opportunity to read just for fun during the school year. Summer reading challenges are fun with a serious purpose – to stop the summer slide that can see children losing as much as a grade level in reading achievement if they don’t pick up a book during the summer.
“Winter is a much more relaxed reading challenge,” says Killian.
From their home in the Linglestown area of Lower Paxton Twp., the Ellsworth kids love enjoying some winter downtime and earning their reading-challenge prizes (a book light from a recent challenge is 4-year-old Jem’s “most prized possession,” says his mom).
“As a family, we love the coziness of winter – staying in and being warm and putting music on, and just reading,” says Coralee. “That’s one of our favorite things. There is something very comforting about the quiet time of winter and just reading as many books as you can.”