Special to The Dallas Examiner
Dallas Public Library’s SMART Summer with Mayor Eric Johnson kicked off May 30, with incentives and prizes to encourage reading and at-home virtual learning experiences.
“We have all endured a steady stream of disappointing cancellations and closures in recent months, so I am excited that we are able to move forward with SMART Summer,” Johnson said. “As the father of two young boys, I know how important it is to keep children constantly engaged and learning. Through SMART Summer, children can learn about faraway places and people and develop the skills to solve the complex challenges of the future.”
Students can register at http://www.dallaslibrary.org/smartsummer. Youth 18 and younger who read at least 20 minutes a day will earn a free book for every 10 days of reading, up to five times through Aug. 15.
“With the libraries closed and the school year disrupted, this program is more important than ever,” said Jo Giudice, director of libraries. “We feel an extra responsibility to help young people have fun while keeping their skills sharp over the summer, and we are rising to the challenge.”
When students have read 50 days, they will be entered in the grand prize drawings. Additionally, there are online activities they can complete on their own for more chances to win the grand prizes, including gift cards, tablets, games and one-of-a-kind experiences.
SMART Summer is sponsored by Friends of the Dallas Public Library, the nonprofit organization that funds programming and marshals public support for the library system.
“This is one of our most important projects every year,” said Mary Wilonsky, executive director of the Friends group. “It’s very gratifying to us to see children maintain their enthusiasm for reading and learning and be ready for the new school year.”
Formerly known as the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge, SMART Summer emphasizes the learning beyond reading that happens at the library: science, math, art, reading and technology. Johnson, whose enthusiasm for Dallas libraries began in childhood, remains the program’s patron along with his wife, Nikki Johnson.
“Dallas families have faced hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the closures of schools have made it even more critical that we provide learning opportunities for our children over the summer,” she said. “I empathize with all the parents who have had to learn, on the fly, to become home-school teachers, and I hope SMART Summer will help Dallas families continue to grow together during these difficult times.”
“We’re bringing the library to your home with our amazing online resources,” Giudice said. “There will still be reading, and there will still be prizes.”