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Get excited about reading

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By Kirsten Laskey

With some time off from school, students may wonder   to fill up their free time. Many might be driven indoors by the current icy, snowy conditions but the library is offering the perfect interior activity – reading.

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The Los Alamos County Library System’s winter reading program is not as formal or as large as the summer program but it offers a fun avenue for youngsters to pursue reading.

The program offers a bingo format, Angie Manfredi, head of youth services, said.

“In the summer,” she said, “you can read anything you like. But the winter program has bingo. (It) gives you a little bit of direction as far as authors, genres and maybe materials and titles in the library you never thought of before.” The program is being offered through February.

To get started, participants can pick up a bingo card, which is broken up by ages. For readers age 8-19, there is a nine square card. For those who are younger, there is 25 square card.

Each square points the reader in a different literary direction. For instance, one square will direct the participant to read a book about snow while another will instruct the reader to read a sci-fi/fantasy book.

When an individual completes a row of squares in any direction they will receive a prize. Prizes include a free one-time admission to the Los Alamos County Ice Rink or to the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.

If the entire card is completed, an additional prize will be awarded.

Manfredi said the program is fun because “besides the fact that you can get a cool prize, it’s a fun way to read new things and it’s also a challenge to find books that fit the requirement …  it gives you a chance to explore the library’s collection and read books that are recommended by librarians.”

Beverly Cooper of youth services said she started the winter reading program a number of years ago. “I wanted something less formal (than the summer reading program),” she said.

Additionally, the Winter Olympics were being held, which inspired Cooper to create a sports-themed program.

For instance, she had the different Olympic rings symbolize a different genre.

“It went over really well,” she said.

 This year’s bingo game format is another hit, Cooper said. “It’s fun,” she explained. “It’s fun to do a puzzle.”

Manfredi added the bingo cards were introduced last year and were a success “because it was a new way to explore the library and read books that people have not thought of before.”

Of course, the biggest objectives are to prove to students that reading can be fun and to encourage them to continue to read throughout the year.

“(It) encourages enthusiasm for reading all year long,” Cooper said, “which is really our intent.”