Summer reading in the age of social media

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire is encouraging kids to read with its Summer Library Program. Kids ages 0 to 18 can set their own reading goals and earn prizes like coupons and free books.

Andrea Rice, a librarian at L.E. Phillips, says the reading program has had a good turnout this year. However, a 2018 American Psychological Association study says less than 20% of U.S. teens reported reading daily while 80% say they use social media every day.

“Kids get excited. They want to tell you about the books they are reading and we love recommending books,” Rice says. “We love seeing them come back and say I loved that book you recommended.”

Some moms say they encourage their kids to read by leading by example.

“My kids see me reading hopefully more than I am on my phone,” says mom of three, Katie Sideri. “We read every single day. There is not a day they go to sleep without reading a book.”

Sideri says the reading programs at the library help to keep her kids excited about reading.

“It's not like this big daunting thing there are little prizes on the way to keep them engaged,” Sideri says.

Though social media usage has become prevalent in so many kids’ lives, Rice says she continues to see kids excited about reading at the library. She says there are some benefits to social media as well.

“I think for teens it can be a unique way to be able to connect with someone whose book they love so they can follow them and see more about their writing process which can be informative, “ Rice says. “From my experiences as a teen librarian, I see kids coming in with their phones but I still see them excited about reading.”

Rice expects more than 2,300 people to enroll in the summer reading program this year.

The summer reading program will continue through August 15 and kids can stop by the library to sign up.