The program's design was pretty flawed, but I wasn't given the authority to overhaul it: every time you finished a book you would log it with a volunteer and receive a sticker to commemorate your accomplishment. To prove you had actually read the book, you had to summarize the plot for the volunteer, and if your summary was deemed adequate (which they always were, because who is going to accuse a child of lying about a library summer reading program? Not me.), you were given a sticker. After accumulating a certain number of stickers, you received a prize, which was, disappointingly, another book.
Oh also, the kids could choose whichever books they wanted, and all books were equally valued. One kid was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar while another read Anna Karenina; they were both given a sticker.
I, however, preferred to read books like this:
Image via Amazon
My parents were so proud of me for being their "little bookworm." What they failed to realize was that I was basically reading the equivalent of an episode of Degrassi. I was about 10 years from a Nora Roberts addiction.
Because I was pretty damn old, and because the other volunteers were my peers, I had to give my book summary to one of the old hags who ruled over the children's section, aka the librarians. One afternoon, I waltzed in wielding my paperback book and announced that I'd like another sticker and, if I'd counted correctly, I was owed a prize/book.
"What was your book about?" the old hag asked kindly.
"Well," I began, "It's about a girl who really likes this guy, and he finally asks her to be his girlfriend, but then she realizes that it's not as great as she thought it would be and maybe she doesn't really like him like that." I realized how idiotic it sounded as I was talking, but what could I do?
"Ahh, it always seems to happen like that, doesn't it?" she said wisely.
I nodded. "Yes, always." As if someone who volunteered for the library summer reading program had ever spoken to a boy.
"Alright, here's your sticker, and you can go pick out a book to keep!"
That summer, as I worked my way through the Sweet Valley Jr. High series and its ilk, I learned absolutely nothing from my literary pursuits except how difficult it is to go on dates when you're 11 years old, knowledge that didn't apply to me anyway since I looked like this: