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The joy of reading rings true during summers in Tualatin

You can sign up to participate in the Tualatin Library's summer reading program through July, and can enjoy free family-friendly events Tuesday nights through the end of the summer

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Children look on as entertainer Angel Ocasio performs a trick during a performance at the Lake of the Commons Tuesday night.Sitting on a grassy lawn near Tualatin’s Lake of the Commons, children listened wide eyed as entertainer Angel Ocasio performed magic tricks before them.

Ranging from infants to elementary school students, the children’s excitement was not relegated to one age bracket. Hands flew up and answers were shouted, all hoping for just a moment of engagement.

As part of the Tualatin Public Library’s summer reading program, the library hosts free family-friendly events on the Commons every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Families come and sit on blankets and in lawn chairs to watch the weekly performances and spend time enjoying what Children’s Librarian Sam Wikstrom calls “old-school entertainment.”

“It’s interactive and all the performances are for the whole family,” said Rob Findtner, who was at the event with two of his children, Piper, 6, and Everett, 4. “Both of our kids came to the front and were in the spotlight, which is a big deal for them.”

But not only do Findtner and his family regularly participate in Tuesdays on the Commons, they also participate in the library’s summer reading program. Each family member, including both parents and older brother Henry, make reading something that is part of their daily routine.

“Summer reading is something we always look forward to,” Findtner said. “It’s a big deal to fill out their reading logs, especially for the oldest.”TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - As part of the Tualatin Public Library's summer reading program, free family events are offered every Tuesday night throughout the summer.

The reading logs that they fill out are then turned in to the library this month and in August, and will be added into Tualatin’s collective summer reading pot. As a community, Wikstrom said the goal is for area residents to read 2.5 million minutes after crushing last summer’s goal of 1.5 million. Families and individuals of all ages can still sign up through the end of July.

“Really, the goal is simple — and has been for decades — to get kids reading and to get kids enjoying reading,” Wikstrom said. “Not to read for school or assignments, but just to read for fun, the sheer pleasure of it.”

One person who fully understands the concept of reading for fun is 5-year-old Arin Joshi. Along with his parents, he’s also participating in the summer reading program, and his father, Vijay Joshi, said that they’re constantly coming back to the library to pick out new books. Already at age 5, Arin is excited by the knowledge contained between book pages.

“For new things to learn,” he said, explaining his enjoyment of reading. “Everything.”

“It’s fantastic,” Vijay Joshi said later. “It’s like we’re going back to school with him.”

Family engagement is one thing that the summer reading program strives to create, Wikstrom said. And on top of that, an incentive program is offered, allowing kids to pick out for themselves two books to keep for their personal libraries. (Don’t worry, there are adult prizes, too.)

“If you don’t have that personal library at home and fun books on the book shelf that you’re excited about going to, then you’re not going to have that experience of being excited about reading,” Wikstrom said. “Sometimes we forget about the raw wonder of reading a great novel, of sitting down with a book where you’re living somebody else’s life and you’re walking around in their shoes. Nothing can do that as well as reading a book.”

And though he might not be reading novels yet, Arin, who also took to calling himself “The Golden Ninja” on Tuesday night, had an answer to make every librarian proud when asked if he could name his favorite book.

“All of them,” he said. “Every book, forever.”TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Families sit and enjoy a performance by children's entertainer Angel Ocasio at the Lake of the Commons on Tuesday.


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