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By Stephen Press
Hometown Weekly Staff
Quietly and meticulously, Lauren Berghman, Young Adult Librarian at the Dover Town Library, sets up a table in one of the library program rooms. On it, she carefully places a handful of items. There are a number of pencils, a stack of books, enough candy to make a dentist recoil in horror, and two iTunes gift cards. Finally, she adds the most important item: a plush bucket in the shape of an "Angry Bird" of video game fame. It's not the bucket itself that's what's important here, though, but what's inside: countless pieces of paper, each with a child's name on it.
This is the end of the Dover summer reading program, and the winners are about the be picked.
Yes, you heard right: winners.
The fun wrinkle in Dover's summer reading program at the library? It gives participants a chance to win prizes for their reading.
"At the end of the summer, after summer reading, we do a drawing, essentially," says Berghman as she makes sure everything is in its right place. When kids "check out an item - any kind of item - they get an entry. They can do that once a day. They can get two entries if they submit a book review." As in any raffle, the number of entries increases one's chances of winning.
For more altruistically-minded readers, there's another option on offer at the library, too. A Read for a Cause program enables kids to convert their reading into a vote for either an animal or tree that will be donated through Heifer International. This year, the children may choose between a llama, duck, goat, honeybees or tree.
With the stage set and thousands of reading-hours spent over the summer break, Berghman readies herself to select a winner. She reaches into the bucket and pulls a name. "Jackson," she says. A second dip in, and the second grand prize winner emerges. "Alex."
Meanwhile, a tree has won the day through the Read for a Cause program.
"This is the third summer I'm doing this for grades 5-12," muses Berghman as she tidies up the table in the wake of the drawing, this year's victors having been selected.
For Berghman and the Dover Library, instilling a love of reading in the town's youth is the real victory.