Maricopa County Reads

Exercise your mind during the summer

By Clint Hickman

Summer in Maricopa County is a great time to kick back, relax and do whatever you can to avoid melting into the pavement as temperatures soar above 110 degrees and climb, inevitably, past 115. For families, summer can be a challenge, not just because of the heat, but because the kids are out of school and those of a certain age are bound to turn to you at some point, with sadness and desperation in their eyes, and utter the phrase “I’m bored” in which the word “bored” is stretched out over 13 letters like “bbbooorrrreed.”

Don’t worry. Our libraries are here to help. The county’s annual summer reading program, Maricopa County Reads, is underway with more than 60 libraries participating. The goal—for children and adults—is to read 20 minutes a day, log your time, and enter to win prizes. You can sign up at read20az.com.

Reading during the summer isn’t just a good way to pass the time, it’s also an important way for kids to exercise their minds. You’ve probably heard about the “summer slide” where children forget some of what they’re learned or fail to build new skills during the summer, then end up behind their peers when classes resume. Committing to 20 minutes of reading a day can help combat the slide and build kids’ confidence.

The theme of this year’s summer reading program is “Libraries Rock.” I like this theme for a couple of reasons. One, I love music. And two, it’s a reminder that our libraries do more than lend books. They are community centers offering a variety of programs, activities and resources that can bring families together.

As a matter of fact, if you want to make a day of it, you can stop by our White Tank Library to pick up books, and then visit the nearby White Tank Mountain Regional Park for the fun activities they have scheduled in June. There are scorpion hikes, snake feedings and a desert survival class. Learn more at maricopacountyparks.net.

More than 80,000 people every year participate in our summer reading program and I hope your family will, too. Whether you have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews, cousins, or neighbors, tell them to complete “Supervisor Hickman’s Rocking Summer Reading Challenge.” Just go to read20az.com and search for it under “challenges.” You’ll find a few of my favorite music-themed activities including the book Punk Farm by Jarrett Krosoczka, lullabies by Guns n’ Roses, and musical instruments made out of egg cartons and beans. Complete two tasks on the list and you’ll earn a badge and 20 points. People who log 1,000 points can get a free book, while supplies last.

Beat the heat. Beat the boredom. Sign up for Maricopa County Reads today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go empty out egg cartons and start a band.

Clint Hickman’s family owns Hickman’s Family Farms and he serves on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for District 4.