It Doesn’t Make You a Bad Parent
I remember signing up for the Summer Reading Program when I was a child. Many moons ago, the program was more of a challenge to see how much you could read. The child, who read the most, won a prize. I signed up and by the time I returned the first set of books I had checked out, the program was over. Wow, hard to believe I am a librarian now.
I will give you my reasons/excuses why I never did well during SRP. #1 – I was never going to beat Kevin, never. He wrote the best stories and was an avid reader the whole time I knew him in school. Kevin is kind of a big deal at Youngstown State University; he started out as a professor and is now an associate provost. #2 – I was a terminally late returner of books, again, hard to believe I am a librarian now. Two weeks and new books, never, check out a stack and return them 4-6 weeks later, every time. In those days SRP only lasted 1 month, so I was never going to complete the program. #3 – I was an outdoors kid. I loved playing with my dogs, going on hikes in the woods, riding bikes, shooting baskets, swimming at the city pool, playing in the mud (sculpting artwork), etc. Reading happened second, or when the weather did not permit outdoor activities.
So did this make me a bad kid, did it make my parents bad parents? I don’t think so, I am pretty confident I turned out okay. I did pretty well academically in high school and college and I am still a reader (I read on my Kindle, so I am never late on returns; it is the only way I keep my job.)
25% of the individuals that signed up for SRP “completed” the program. Program completion was measured by completing a “blueprint” that included various activities including reading. No bad kids, no bad parents, just active kids and busy families. I am confident the other 75% well turn out just fine.
As parents, we are our biggest critics, maybe not when our children are younger, but when they are grown there is no doubt we question everything we ever did. My mom has said on multiple occasions, “I just let you grow up on your own and I think you turned out fine.” There were not the same programs available to parents when I was a child, but no program, no book, no “authority” has the right answer, we all just do the best we know how. My parents did great, they let me explore and they supported me and gave me unconditional love, and that was all I needed. I never did complete SRP, but I still enjoyed my summers playing and doing a little reading.
When my kids were little, we also tried SRP and history repeated itself. I would feel a little guilty and after a couple years we would not even sign up for it. Now, that is sad, not completing SRP does not mean anyone failed. I would be devastated if parents stopped coming to SRP because they feared not “completing” the program. No one fails. The library is just another part of a child’s summer fun.
We started 1000 Books Before Kindergarten in February of 2017. Unlike SRP the only time constraint is kindergarten. If a child is already close to kindergarten age, this might seem like a short time, but I want you to keep a few things in mind. #1 – We have one child who completed the program in 5 months. #2 – One book per day gives you 365 books by the end of the year and we all know one book, is never enough. #3 – This program is not going anywhere, we register kids every day.
If you have signed up, don’t let it overwhelm you, hang the form on the fridge and mark it off. Get the App and send me screen shots as your child completes each level. Stay with it, but if you are busy don’t give up, come back to it. If you don’t get all the books recorded and your child doesn’t “complete” the program, you have not failed. You signed up, you love your child unconditionally, and you let your child be active and well rounded and we couldn’t be more proud of you.