HEART OF STEELE
While other kids spent their summers playing ball and riding bikes, I hung out at the library.
At one point, my mother ordered me out of my room. “Get some fresh air!” she said. So, I finished the last few chapters of my current read out on our front steps.
That was my summer reading program. Nowadays, libraries create a theme and give kids a reading log and special programs and other cool stuff, because it just isn’t easy any more to get and keep their attention.
My only other distractions were a TV with unreliable “rabbit ears,” a tiny AM radio, my LP collection, and an occasional movie night. Books compete now with 200-plus cable channels and streaming services, social media, video games, cell phones, computers, and a world full of distractions.
If it takes a magic show, a free book, and a little ice cream to cut through all that, I am all for it. In fact, I am so all for it that I’d like to see a similar program for adults.
We have the same distractions kids do, with the added responsibilities of work and paying the bills. It can be difficult to find a minute for ourselves, never mind trying to finish the latest bestseller.
Still, the benefits of reading are so clear. According to the National Literacy Trust, reading for pleasure expands our appreciation of other cultures and supplies greater insight into human nature. Other studies show reading enhances creativity, boosts brain power, and supports self-improvement.
We all know those things are good for us, but I strongly suspect a bookmark or a tote bag or a free book would be a more effective incentive. They would work for me.
I think deep down, we’re all looking for one thing in our phones and gaming systems and Netflix subscriptions, something we don’t get nearly enough of in our lives, something that gets lost in the day-to-day grind.
Those studies also show you don’t have to read a heavy, literary classic or nonfiction to reap the benefits of reading. A summer program for adults could serve as an important reminder that reading can be just plain fun.
Creating your own summer reading program is simple: Make a list, set a goal. And please find time to visit the Owatonna or Blooming Prairie library this summer. We are fortunate to have two places to find our next favorite read in the heart of Steele County.