Several months ago, we began planning for the busiest time of the year at any public library – our Summer Reading Program, which began yesterday for adults and today for kids and teens. I like to compare a library’s summer reading program to what Christmas is for retailers. Our staff spends a lot of time and effort securing speakers, planning activities, purchasing supplies, stocking the shelves with current books and replacing old or lost ones. During the next two months, we will see increases in number of items checked out, program attendance and general usage of library resources for all ages.

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to reading lots of books every summer. I checked out large stacks every two weeks. Sometimes I got carried away and couldn’t quite get them all home on my bike. I forced my sister, who was not much of a reader, to carry some of them since she selected only one or two very thin, short ones. She was not thrilled with having to carry my thicker, heavier books. She was even less thrilled that I preferred to spend most of my summer reading instead of playing outside with her and our brother. They both learned early on that once I was engrossed in a book, I tuned out the rest of the world. Their efforts to annoy me into playing with them were useless.

As an adult, I am still completely transported while I am reading. A few weeks ago, I sat down on a Saturday morning to read “Decline and Fall” by Evelyn Waugh. The story is set in England and Wales in the 1920s, with a jaunt to Paris thrown in. I was so immersed that I felt that I was actually there. Then, all of a sudden, it was 6 p.m. I had finished the book and realized I was in Kansas in 2017. The next day, I read another of Waugh’s books, “A Handful of Dust,” which starts off in stuffy, upper crust 1920s England and ends with a bizarre twist in the Amazonian jungle. I am not planning an actual vacation this year; I look forward to many more of these “readcations” during the next few months.

If you can’t afford a real vacation either, or just want something to read at the pool, the beach, in your lawn chair or traveling to your destination, come see us. Take advantage of our efforts to provide materials, programs and activities that encourage you and your family to read, learn, watch and listen during your summer leisure time. If you prefer not to carry around a stack of books, we have e-books and audio books, as well as music and movies you can access for free on a tablet, smartphone or computer. My sister would have loved these if they had been invented back then. No more hauling big sis’ books for her. 

Cindy McGuire is the programming and marketing coordinator at the Leavenworth Public Library.