Lisa Stippich

Lisa Stippich reads a book she checked out from the Fitchburg Public Library. The library began its summer reading program on June 1.

The summer reading program has begun through the Beanstack website and app at the Fitchburg Public Library.

Fitchburg Public Library youth services manager Tim Powers said with the building still closed to the public, children will need encouragement to read during the summer. The summer reading program started Monday, June 1, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 8.

Children track the amount of time and number of books they read online through an online web interface and app called Beanstack. There are various reading challenges and badges participants can earn.

For younger pre-readers, Powers said, every 20 books they read with a parent or family member will entitle them to a free book or a coupon to a local business. For older, independent readers and teenagers, every 5 hours and 20 minutes they read can earn them a free book or a coupon to a local business.

For the library’s adult book club, each person who reads a book then writes a short review. Adult participants receive a raffle ticket for one of three raffles at the end of the summer reading program. There will be three drawings for a $50 Target gift card, $50 Great Dane gift card and $50 Hy-Vee gift card.

Powers said library staff had the entire summer schedule planned before COVID-19 lockdown began in March, causing staff to scramble to adapt programs.

“Every year, we hear about the dropoff from the end of the school year to the next year,” Powers said. “We thought it was extremely important to look for an online option so kids could continue summer reading. This will help them keep reading so their (skills) don’t decrease over the summer.”

The library will continue to offer storytimes twice a week on Facebook and other arts and crafts activities on Facebook. The library is offering limited curbside pickup.

When the library is allowed to reopen, Powers said, staff will allow program and arts supplies to be checked out and taken home for projects.

The program is being funded by a federal Library Service and Technology Act grant that is implemented by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Division for Libraries and Technology.