Pine River: Library reading program, craft kits a hit this summer

Pine River Public Library Branch Manager Tami Beto stands with the summer reading program prize table to the left, and some of the activities and activity packets from the summer to the right. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal.

The Pine River Public Library Summer Reading Program may be having its best year with both craft participants and reading completion among children.

“We have 32 (participants) with 14 that are complete,” said Branch Manager Tami Beto. “And I know we have slips we have to count. We have eight more, so we'll have for sure 22 out of the 32, and there will be a surge when they realize they are getting prizes. They have to test the waters first.”

By comparison, 2019 saw 26 participants with 13 who completed the reading program.

In addition, the summer reading activities, which would normally be two-hour programs in the library meeting room every Tuesday, come in take-home kits with instructions.

“Last year I think we only had eight to 10 different children that came, and nobody came to all of them,” Beto said. “This year for the activity kits, the first week we gave away 25 kits and from then on we were giving away 38 kits a week.”


Beto has been tracking satisfaction with surveys as well, and she said the enthusiasm for the activities and reading program this summer is off the charts. They get feedback in other ways as well.

“We know they are doing them because we're getting emails,” Beto said. “They're putting pictures on Facebook and they're sharing them with us. So we know they aren't just picking them up and throwing them to the side.”

In part, this seems to be due to program structure.

“We started off activity kit pickup on Tuesday,” Beto said. “They can run all their errands, get their groceries and stop by the library to grab their bag when they are done. And Thursdays are prize days, so again they just schedule when to come.”

So far, the first activity has been the favorite of the summer. This is despite the fact that the activity was quickly put together after the scheduled activity was delayed when the materials got lost or delayed in shipping because of riots in Minneapolis. That first activity involved filling a tray with shaving cream, dyeing that tray with food coloring in marbled swirls and then using that foam to dye paper.

The success of this year's program may also be one silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown.

“It's sad to say, but they don't have their T-ball and all the things they normally do running around,” Beto said. “This is a quick little fun release for them.”

When COVID-19 is finally a distant memory, Beto said she hopes to learn from this summer's successes for future reading programs. The library is already considering continuing to issue activity kits once the summer reading program ends.


“We're going to do more take-and-make kits,” Beto said. “And we'll do some for adults. I think that's something that we can include and have more of. We print off the instructions and we make a YouTube video, because we now have a YouTube channel, so we'll continue to do more of those.”

This summer has also required a better working knowledge of Google Forms and other electronic resources, which could continue to come in handy.

For the summer reading program, participants had varying goals set for reading from June 1 to July 25. They have two weeks after that deadline to report their results and pick up prizes. As of Friday, July 24, participants had logged 44,601 minutes of reading for the summer reading program.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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