The Brownsville Public Library kicked off its yearly Summer Reading Program on Monday where hundreds of children and adults register to read a certain number of books and be able to enter a raffle at the end to win several prizes such as gift cards, laptops, iPads and toys.

The program takes place at both the Southmost and Central branches and aims to promote literacy throughout the city. Last year due to COVID-19, the library was not able to host the event in person but did so online with a low turnout.

“Based on the turnout today, it just goes to show how much people have missed the library. They do want to read, they do want to be a part of the community, so it’s good to have these events so that they can come out and be a part of something,”  Keyla Treviño, librarian at the Brownsville Public Library, said.

“Last year, we didn’t have such a turnout because it was online, and I think it’s because they were missing that community connection. The fact that they’re back shows that they want to be here. They want to connect with their community and with the library.”

Registration will continue until July 6 at the customer service desks at both branches, and patrons are required to have their own library card at the time of registration. Once registered, participants can pick up their information packet, which includes their title logs at the Children’s Department or Customer Service Desk of both libraries.

The number of required books ranges depending on the age of the participant. Children age 0 to 6 are required to check out 13 books; 7 to 12 years old must check out nine books, 13 to 17 years old seven books, and 18 and older have to check out five books. Participants will write three to five sentences about one of the books listed on their title log.

“I think it is so important to have this because despite everything that has happened within the last year, the library has always been here, reading has always been there. And what it is so great about reading is that you can take it anywhere,” Chayse Sundt, librarian at the Brownsville Public Library, said.

The Brownsville Public Library Main Branch and Southmost Branch officially kick-off their Summer Reading Program. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

“It is something that you can take in a car, you can take in a plane, you can read on your phone, on your iPad. Being able to come together as a community, and do a program like this, shows just how important literacy is, how important the library is and how everything is just changing and what we need to do as a community.”

Once participants have read their required reading, they will return the completed title log and a library receipt that demonstrates at least one book was checked out at the library, to the Children’s Department. The department will begin accepting all title logs on July 6.

“The main purpose is to show that we are here, we want people to come back, we are excited for people to come back and reading is an important journey. It is your own process, your own kind of journey, there’s no map to it,” Sundt said.

“It just kind of goes to show how important the library is for people and how people need the library.”