Some kids are a little too young for a part-time summer job bagging groceries, scooping ice cream or lifeguarding, but they can still earn Book Bucks from the Marin County Free Library (MCFL).

The library’s staff at all 10 branches have rolled out a fantastic Kids Summer Challenge program that thousands of children enjoy each year. The program runs through August for kids up to age 12.

In Marin, youngsters register at any MCFL branch and receive a folder to help them keep track of the minutes they’ve read and provide ideas for fun learning activities. Kids can earn Book Bucks for every 100 minutes read (or are read to), exchange them for prizes at library branches or donate them to help the library’s giving program. The nonprofit Friends of the Marin County Free Library will provide matching funds – that’s in real dollars – to the San Rafael-based nonprofit Wildcare for all Book Bucks donations.

The Teen Summer Learning program features maker events, movie nights, videography, creative writing, poetry, comic book and anime creation, and art sessions. Students can test their knowledge online related to trivia, sports and Marin County history and compete for prizes with others. “Scratcher” points are awarded for participation in posting book reviews, attending library events and other activities, and the points champion gets the grand prize. Note that incoming fifth-graders may choose between the Summer Challenge program or the Teen Summer Learning program.

Those who can’t easily get to a MCFL branch won’t be left out. The “Summer Challenge to Go” program has been expanded to child development centers, public summer school locations and ranches in West Marin.

National Summer Learning Day, July 12, is an advocacy effort aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year. Check out your local library to ensure your child has activities, books and time to make the most of their summer.

There is no formal registration for either program. Stop in to any MCFL branch or check www.marinlibrary.org for more details about the Summer Learning program.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors includes an “E for Education” as one of its ongoing priorities, and it supports MCFL’s efforts to become a hotspot for learning in general, not just a place that supports reading. MCFL advocates for summer learning as a solution for equity and excellence in education with a shared goal of helping young people succeed in college, career and life. Studies show that third-grade reading scores are highly correlated with later academic success and often indicate whether a student will graduate from high school.

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