PUEBLO, Colo. – A total of 7,074 kids earned $100 by a Pueblo City-County Library’s reading challenge conclusion on Wednesday, Sept. 22. Registrants, ages 0 to 17, had to check out 10 library materials then submit a response to what they borrowed.
As part of a special school outreach program, an additional 356 kids completed the challenge twice, earning them a gift bag filled with an age-appropriate book and gift certificates to Cold Stone Creamery, Applebees and the Pueblo Ice Arena.
“The Reading Pays: Pueblo $1 Million Reading Challenge awarded well over 7,000 young people $100 each for their reading achievements this past summer. I know that kids who read succeed, and I feel certain that our local young people have been positively impacted with these great reading outcomes during the summer of 2021,” said Jon Walker, PCCLD executive director.
Library officials noticed that kids living in higher-income zip codes completed the program at higher rates. Starting in August, students living in lower to moderate-income zip code areas were auto-enrolled into Reading Pays. Twenty-two schools in both Pueblo City School District 60 and Pueblo County School District 70 as well as private and charter schools added Reading Pays into their curriculum, ensuring that those students have the opportunity to engage with the library.
A total of 2,178 students completed the September cohort including students at District 70’s South Mesa Elementary. The school recorded a 100% finishing rate, with all students successfully completing the challenge. Officials from Pueblo County, District 70 and the library will give the students their $100 vouchers or gift bags during an assembly at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 25 at South Mesa Elementary.
Community engagement with the library district increased as well. Registrants checked out over 70,000 library items during a four-month span. Overall circulation increased by 50% during June and July, and there was a 66% increase in new library card issuance during May, June, July and August than were issued in 2019.
“Programs like Reading Pays or Summer Reading help children to stay engaged over the summer and keep them prepared while they are out of school. It is the goal of these programs to help children identify as readers and see reading as a treat and not a chore. Reading Pays allowed us to make this summer exceptionally exciting by offering $100. It was the goal of this program to get kids excited to read, I truly believe it did its job,” Nick Potter, director of Community Relations and Development said.
The $1 million funding for Reading Pays is part of the American Rescue Plan to help Pueblo rebound from the effects of COVID-19. All funds will directly impact area youth, and the library district will not keep any of the funds for administrative fees.
Registrants opting to open a savings account with Bank of the San Juans will receive an additional $10, so long as their account maintains a $50 balance for the next six months. Unused funds will be returned to the City and County of Pueblo, as required by an inter-governmental agreement.
Community partners in the Reading Pays program include the city and county of Pueblo, the library district, Bank of the San Juans and EPIC of Pueblo.
To learn more about PCCLD, visit www.pueblolibrary.org.