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So yesterday, we (we being my sister and I) took our kids (everyone except the Baby Girl) to the North End Branch of the Newark Public Library to get them set up for the annual Summer Reading Challenge.  This is a first for us.  Here’s hoping it goes well.  If our time at the library yesterday is any indication, I think it will.

We arrived earlyish, around 10:15, and managed to get out before noon, with all our books.  As usual, Miss Heather was unflappable.  The kids were, well, kids.  There were nine of them there, and they do make some noise, no matter how often the mommies do the shushing thing.  If I’m making an honest assessment here, they were actually really good, for nine kids, in a library, for an hour and a half.  The noise they were making was mainly reading books out loud to each other, and asking questions about how many they were allowed to take out.  Miss Heather answered all of our questions, pointed us in the right directions for the best books on stars and the Piggie and Elephant series from Mo Willems (hilarious, btw), and helped my sister and I set up the reporting booklets for the kids.  She even made sure to have us take the awesome bowling summer pass vouchers for a nearby bowling alley.  She even made sure to hand out extra plastic bags and stickers so that everyone had their own thing to take home.  What can I say?  Our librarian is more awesome than yours.

So, the challenge itself.  Yeah.

My sister and I have an issue with it.  It’s normally supported locally by the Prudential Foundation.  As in Prudential Insurance Company.  As in the awesome folks who sponsor “The Rock”.  As in a quintessentially Newark company.  So far, no problem.

This year, though, it’s also sponsored by the United Way, an organization I am totally against.  (Here’s why, among other things.  Even one cent going to Planned Parenthood in any way is enough to keep me away from a company, especially one that is so easy to avoid.)  Since we are not giving the United Way a dime, and since we are not looking to profit from anything they are providing, we are going to go ahead with the challenge.  In reality, the “prizes” are basically key chains and possibly some stickers.  I am figuring that every penny they spent on this instead of on abortions is actually a good thing.

Any thoughts on this issue would be appreciated, if delivered in a kind, intelligent, respectful way.  Let’s discuss it.  Have you had any issues like this (where you really want to participate in a free program but have issues with the sponsors)?  Let me know.

At any rate, the theme (and I use this term very loosely) for this year’s challenge is, “Dream Big! Read!”.  In reality, it’s being interpreted as any type of dream, anything having to do with outer space in anyway (travel, astronomy, rockets, etc), future jobs (even things that most of us would not consider “dreaming big”), and pretty much anything one can think of.  Seriously.  Charlotte’s Web was listed under this topic, as were every one of the 15 space books my sons took out.  Lucky for us, we don’t have to understand the nuances of the Dream Big theme.  The books that do somehow magically fit this theme count for two books each, so, if I can wrangle “reports” (pictures or crafts or two line essays) on all of them, we’ll be well on our way for meeting the 200 book limit.  Oooh!  I should make a counter thingy for the sidebar!

And now, because I am clearly getting loopy and (not that you could see this) in a good bit of carpal tunnelly pain, I’m off.  Don’t forget to “Dream Big!” and support your local libraries, even if your librarians couldn’t hold a candle to ours. 🙂