Nats tickets, cleaning Chesapeake Bay: What to know about Montgomery Co. summer reading challenge

Students in Montgomery County, Maryland, will have an opportunity to earn Washington Nationals baseball tickets when the county’s summer reading challenge begins.

The county’s annual efforts, intended to keep students engaged in reading while they’re not in school, are scheduled to start next week.

Cassandra Malik, the early literacy and children’s services program manager for the county’s library system, said the theme of this summer’s program is “Oceans of Possibilities.” To align with the county’s Climate Action Plan, libraries won’t be handing out plastic prizes, “which can clog up waterways and oceans and contribute to landfill waste when they’re discarded,” Malik said.

Instead, at the summer reading initiative’s midpoint, Malik said, all participants will receive a Nationals voucher for two tickets. Kids will also receive a book when they sign up for the program.

The library system is also working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, so the number of books students read will be tied to the foundation planting trees near the Bay’s streams and rivers, planting oysters and sending volunteers to clean animal habitats.

The program will begin June 15 and end Aug. 31.

“In terms of the summer reading, we get asked about it a lot here at the library,” said Sean Riley, head of service for the Noyes Library for Young Children in Kensington.

“It’s the sort of thing that kids and parents wait for all year ’round, because it’s always so exciting. It’s always so exciting to be able to read a new book and get something out of it — not only something out of the actual reading [of] the book, but get an incentive for doing the reading.”

Reading lists vary by age group and Riley said the county added some books that related to the theme. He said book lists are updated annually and the county aimed to ensure that 30% of this summer’s lists included new titles.

In 2019, over 11,000 kids participated in the summer reading program. In 2020, about 4,500 people registered to participate, and about 6,600 kids registered last summer. Last year, Malik said, participants increased across every age group.

“That was our goal, to start building back up to those 2019 numbers this year,” Malik said.

The program’s kickoff event is scheduled for June 18 at 10:30 a.m. at the Rockville Library.

More information about the summer reading program, including book lists, is available online.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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