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Monday, April 15, 2024

52: A Yearlong Reading Journey’: Yolo County’s 52-week reading program

The program is aimed at encouraging participation in reading, which has numerous benefits 

By SHRADDHA JHINGAN city@theaggie.org

Recently, the Yolo County Library launched a program called “52: A Yearlong Reading Journey.” This program encourages people to read more and offers a space for people to get book recommendations and to connect with other readers.

According to the website, “52 is different from other reading programs: It lasts all year long, offers loads of reading suggestions through prompts, and provides a space for you to share favorite books with your community.”

Steve Klein, the library assistant II for the Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch, explained how the idea for the program originated.

“The program is really a successor to our Winter Reading Program,” Klein said via email. “While we were brainstorming we got really excited about the idea of a yearlong program, like GoodReads or Bookriot. ’52: A Yearlong Reading Journey’ came about from an examination of our goals, and this program is all about reading for the love of reading.”

To participate in the program, people can pick up a reading journal at their local Yolo County Library branch. 

“You can pick one [reading journal] up at any of our Yolo County Library Branches,” Klein said via email. “We noticed an immediate interest in the journals sitting on the front desk. You can write down prompts (new prompts are revealed at the beginning of each month), log your books, rate them, and give a short description, all in one place. We’re happy to see so many book suggestions the community has shared on 52 displays.”

Alternatively, instead of picking up a reading journal at one of the preceding Yolo County Library branches, participants can also use the app Beanstack, the link for which can be found on the program’s website

The objective of the program is to “read as many books as you can in 2022” by using the weekly prompts or by reading books of the participants’ own choice. In order to get monthly prompts, participants can email yolocountylibrary@gmail.com “with the subject heading: 52.”

Klein explained that rather than meeting a “concrete goal,” the program is designed to be a personal experience for each reader. 

“We’ve created weekly prompts, which range from as simple as ‘Read a comic book’ to prompts that tie in with our existing programming,” Klein said via email. “But 52 is personal for each[…] reader. It’s your journey. You can follow our prompts, suggest your own, or just do your own thing. While the goal of the program is to read 52 books a year, you also have the option to throw that goal entirely.”

After books have been read, they can be logged in the Beanstack app or in the reading journal. On the app, readers can choose to do the prompts or not and to share if they did something different. Participants can also share their “favorite books” with others by posting the titles at any of the libraries’ displays. 

The Yolo County Library also holds other reading programs throughout the year. One of these is the summer reading program, which is held from June to August every year and is open to people of all ages. Participants can track what they read and can earn prizes. 

“Research indicates that summer reading programs help children and teens retain and enhance their reading skills over the summer, provide a haven for community readers, and develop reading enthusiasm,” the program’s description reads. 

In 2021, 2,668 people participated in the Summer Reading Program. A total of 22,008 books were read for a total of 15,517 hours.

Such programs help to encourage participation in reading for children and adults alike, which has numerous benefits. 

Klein explained that such a program mostly gets attention from parents who want to help their children read more, which he said can be obtained by modeling “the reading habits you want your children to have, as you are their first role model, and children naturally want to mock what their parents are doing.”

Melissa Hossteter, a seventh-grade language arts teacher in Springfield, IL and a graduate student at the University of Illinois Springfield, highlighted in a TED Talk the importance of reading and discussed new and more efficient ways to teach children to read effectively.

“Yes, children need to read in order to learn, but adults need to read in order to live, to participate in society, to be a citizen,” Hossteter said.

Similarly, in another TED Talk, Lisa Bu, a speaker at TED explained how, when she was unable to pursue her first career choice, books helped her access a myriad of other information.

“I turned to books,” Bu said in the TED Talk. “I satisfied my hunger for parental advice[…], I found my role model of an independent woman[…] and I learned to be efficient.”

Ultimately, such reading programs help children and adults alike become more invested in reading and explore the benefits of reading that Wu and Hossteter discussed.

In addition, Klein explained that recently the library has discussed “reading and equity.”

“Having the ability, mental capacity, and time to read a print book is a privilege,” Klein said via email. “How is reading important to a struggling parent whose priority is doing all that they can to put food on the table? That parent is looking at their child to have that ability for them to live and be accepted and have a better future.”

However, Klein clarified that storytelling is not only limited to print books but can also be experienced through talking and listening.

“There is a rich history of oral storytelling that many cultures value as a way to share knowledge, and because it is connected to tradition and brings people closer to their heritage, it could be better to change the way we think about what counts as reading,” Klein said via email.

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org

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