Summer Reading: A Family Affair

As I rushed to the door on my way to work, I glanced in the mirror. Wait. My dress is on inside out, I quickly realized. I ran back upstairs to change, only to realize that my shoes didn’t match my dress. I quickly tied my hair back and headed for the car. No makeup today. There’s no time. 

Making my way to the car, I glanced at my phone. There were five missed text messages from my mom. Among them were pictures of my sweet little seven-month-old baby with her squishy cheeks reaching for a book. 

“She likes your book. I read it to her,” my mom texted, along with a photo of the cover of If I were a Unicorn.

Since Isabella was a few months old, my entire family has made it a point to read to her. She’s obviously too young to read, but everyone understands the importance of reading to her early and often. 

So, when I learned about the Mt. Lebanon Public Library’s 2023 Summer Reading Program, I knew that I had to sign up Isabella. I wanted to participate myself, but, with my busy schedule, working full time and momming, there’s not a lot of time for adult books these days. (Also, most of my reading comes in the form of newspaper articles. It’s the journalist in me!)

We decided instead to make it a family affair. Izzy spends most of her days at Aunt Jamie and Uncle Carlos’ (We call him funcle, because he’s the “fun uncle”) house or with Grandma and Granddad, so of course she has a stack of books at each of their houses.

A woman holds a baby while reading a book.
Grandma reads a book to Izzy.

On June 12, Aunt Jamie brought Izzy to the Mt. Lebanon Public Library to meet me on my lunch break so we could sign up for the program together. 

Since we’re reading small children’s books to Izzy, we don’t count every single book that we read to her. 

The program gives you a great option of tracking minutes (30 minutes equals one point) or books (one book equals one point). 

Aunt Jamie reads a book to Izzy.

I’ve been tracking the books that we read to Izzy on Beanstack. I love that you can see which days you read and what you read on a given day. No matter who is watching Izzy, someone is always reading to her. Aunt Jamie pulls from the stack of books at her house, while Grandma and Grandad went to the Pleasant Hills Public Library to get library cards and check-out books for Izzy. (Mt. Lebanon Magazine managing editor Merle Jantz works there on the side, and he was able to help them check out books for Isabella!) 

Grandad reads a book to Izzy.

At night, as a part of our bedtime routine, we’ve added reading. Dad reads a book while I rock Izzy to sleep. 

When they finish a book, my mom texts me a picture for me to log. We’ve already logged more than 10 points. 

Kids also get points for doing nice things like leaving your mail carrier or garbage collector a thank you note or doing chores at home. Those are next up on our list. I want to show Izzy the importance of kindness and gratitude, even at this young age. 

For kids a little older, the library hands out brag tags each week that you participate in the program. I’m sure in a year or two we will be doing weekly stops at the library for bragging rights, but right now our frequent trips to the Mt. Lebanon Public Library are just to pick up more books. 

Tom, Izzy and Stephanie at the beach.

For us, I love how this has become a whole family affair and even led my parents to sign up for a library card. I couldn’t have done this by myself. 

I can’t wait to watch Izzy grow up reading and gathering an appreciation for the local public library and all that it has to offer. I hope that this year’s summer reading program is just the start of a lifelong love of reading for Isabella. 

And, since we’re at the library repeatedly these days, what books would you recommend for us to read to a seven-month-old? I’d love to hear your suggestions. 

The library’s summer reading program goes until August 2, so I’ll check back in with you all before then to share updates of what we’ve been reading. Send me your suggestions! 

Mt. Lebanon Magazine managing editor Merle Jantz is participating in the Mt. Lebanon Public Library’s Adult Summer Reading Program. He shared his experience here!

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