Of the Baker City Herald

Long a fan of and a participant in Oregon's Summer Reading Program, Baker County children's librarian Melissa Jeffery has taken the program a step farther this year: she helped write the curriculum.

As one of a group of 12 children's librarians from around the state meeting at a conference last fall, Jeffery and the others decided that the wealth of experience they take to their jobs every day could be put to use designing the increasingly popular program.

The result?

andquot;Don't Bug Me, I''m Reading,andquot; which gets under way at the local library Tuesday, June 18. The program will be held at the library, 2400 Resort Street, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. through 11 a.m. through Aug. 6.

On the final day, the county's youngest readers will be treated to the annual library carnival, where they can trade tickets they've earned for each hour of summertime reading for books and other prizes.

Children should sign up for just one of the three days, Jeffery said.

The program's registration list stood at 110 Wednesday morning. Jeffery said she will cap the program at approximately 120 children. Parents or guardians have until the program starts next week to register their little readers, but they should call or stop by soon to reserve a slot, Jeffery said.

The telephone number to register is 523-6419.

Already, a bug collection developed by Adam Wickam is in place in the library's front display case. Jeffery said she had a busy winter collecting tidbits of insect information to share during the program.

andquot;We're all set to learn weird things about bugs,andquot; she said.

Each hour Jeffery has with summertime readers will be divided between listening to stories and fashioning the craft of the week. Participants will spend the first two weeks making bug costumes to wear during the Fourth of July Kiddie Parade.

Summer readers have a proven track record with the parade's costume judges, she said.

andquot;We always win,andquot; she says modestly.

Jeffery said the craft item she's looking forward to most is something she calls andquot;garbage bugs.andquot; Children will be handed an assortment of items they might find in their kitchen drawer lengths of thread, cotton swabs, old pipe cleaners and be asked to make a bug out of the spare parts.

A statewide summer trend

The Oregon Library Association reports that the summer reading program has grown 133 percent since 1999. More than 116 Oregon libraries participate, and last year 92,242 children enrolled.

andquot;Oregon Summer Reading helps children and young adults maintain and improve their reading skills during summer vacation so that they can return to school in the fall better prepared to learn,andquot; said Janet Webster, president of the O.L.A. andquot;This summer our goal is to enroll 100,000 youth.andquot;

The association believes the program is a key component for providing year-round learning opportunities for Oregon children, especially at at time when additional funding cuts are proposed for many Oregon schools.

Summer Reading is co-sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank and Oregon Public Broadcasting. Additional sponsors include the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, Omnibus Media and Theatre Slide Group.

Other supporters include the Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust and the Jackson Foundation.