PUEBLO, Colorado — Pueblo's million-dollar summer reading giveaway is about halfway through. Local students who participate in the Reading Pays program can earn $100 as a reward for checking out and reading 10 books from the library this summer through the end of September.
The money comes from federal stimulus funds distributed to the City of Pueblo and Pueblo County through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA.)
Jon Walker, Executive Director of the Pueblo Library District, said summer reading programs prevent learning loss between the school years.
"With this special disruption that happened this last school year, we know that that is sort of redoubled," he explained.
"You had sort of a disrupted school year, some of the kids didn't get their full educational interaction, and then the idea was well, they'll have even more with the summer."
When students finish reading their books, they must submit proof to the librarian. That can be a book report, a short essay, a drawing, or a video.
Walker is impressed with the creativity students have shown in their videos. For example, pair of brothers who checked out 10 cookbooks recorded themselves reading recipes and preparing dishes from the books.
"Their mom went along with it, I know she had a little clean-up to do after all of that," Walker said.
The library district has already given out $350,000 worth of certificates for kids to take to the bank to earn their cash reward.
Walker said many of the students opted to put their reward money in savings for college. Others have cashed in to go shopping.
He wants to encourage all of the children who are participating this summer to finish their books.