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Summer is time for reading and fun at the library
summer reading bookmarks
This year's Summer Reading Challenge Bookmark Contest winners are Adalyn R. (0 -11 age group winner), Layla K. (12 - 17 age group winner), and Natalie M. (18 & up age group winner). Readers can pick up these bookmarks at any Stanislaus County Library branch (Photo contributed).

The annual Summer Reading Challenge is underway at the Turlock Public Library.

For the remainder of the summer school break, young readers — 17 and younger — can download the Beanstack mobile app and log their reading activity. If students read for at least 30 minutes a day, they are awarded a virtual ticket, which can be used to win prizes.

But can the library be sure that students are actually reading while they’re logged in?

“We trust them,” said Turlock branch supervisor Karina Mendoza. “Parents can log it for them, or they can back-log it if they don’t want to do it every single  day. It’s an honor system. We want to make it fun. We don’t to make it like school where they have to count the minutes exactly.”

Prizes range from gift cards to a Nintendo Switch gaming system.

Readers 18 and older have to read an entire book to get their ticket, but it can be any book, from “Green Eggs and Ham” to “War and Peace.”

But that’s not the only thing happening at the Turlock Public Library.

There’s the Read to a Dog program, held the first Saturday of every month.

“That program is really neat,” said Mendoza. “A child that is less confident reading will read to a dog, because a dog doesn’t judge.”

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Library group meet the first Wednesday of each month. The next meet is this coming Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“Our Friends group are amazing,” said Mendoza. “We are well-funded and are able to do some amazing things because they give us the money. We have a once-a-month sewing class (next meets June 14 at 1 p.m.) and the Friends completely pay for that. And for all our programs, essentially.”

Also, each Tuesday at 4 p.m. is T(w)een Tuesday, where kids up to 18 years old make different art projects. 

Today, from 2 to 3 p.m., is Pokemon Day; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. is Board Game Saturday; Tuesday at 4 p.m. is LEGO Day, along with T(w)een Tuesday’s LEGO Stop-Motion Creation Day. 

Mendoza, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz who earned her master’s in library sciences at San Jose State, said she’s noticed kids are more interested in reading, thanks in part to social media.

BookTok, a sub-community of the social media app TikTok, encourages users to read and discuss books. 

“I’ve been with the library system since 2006 and I remember 10 years ago we struggled with teens and 20-year-olds reading,” said Mendoza. "But now, we’re having to shift, just because we have so many younger readers, with the influence of books on Instagram and TikTok. Social media has played a huge role.

“There are books that I recommended for five years that nobody ever heard of. All of a sudden we can’t keep them on the shelves anymore because of BookTok. People are rediscovering books.”

You can visit for a complete schedule of events. 

Library cards are free.