Mesquite, Texas – Mesquite kids read hundreds of thousands of pages this summer thanks to a reading contest started by Mayor Daniel Alemán, Jr.
In June, Mayor Alemán launched the inaugural Mesquite Mayor 1,000-Page Reading Challenge program for readers ages 5-12. The contest, which ran through July 31, was accessible even to the City’s youngest readers as participants could read independently or have pages read to them. Attendance at the Mesquite Public Library System’s weekly Story Time also counted toward pages read.
Out of the 775 readers who participated in the Library’s Summer Reading Club, more than 240 participants qualified by reading at least 1,000 pages to attend a celebratory pizza party on Aug. 5 at Mesquite’s Main Library.
“I’m so excited that this many kids rose to the challenge,” Mayor Alemán said. “Our goal was for families to be involved together to keep kids reading over the summer. Our kids are ready to be successful this school year because they kept their minds engaged and read all summer long.”
Manuel Soto, 10, said his mom believed deeply in summer reading, even before the Mayor’s challenge was created, but the special prizes gave him extra motivation.
“I heard there would be pizza,” Manuel said with a mischievous smile. “A thousand pages sounds like a big number, but it wasn’t that hard. It’s good to have a goal and prove you can make it.”
He and his brother Santiago Soto, 12, both achieved the 1,000-page goal. They re-read some favorites along with some new titles including books in the Dog Man and Goosebumps series. Their mom, Margaret Avila, said the promise of a pizza party plus a little brotherly competition propelled the boys over the finish line.
“Reading in the summer keeps their minds busy,” she said. “I’m proud of them because they both made the goal.”
Councilmember Jennifer Vidler congratulated each challenge participant while handing out goodie bags at the pizza party. She said encouraging kids to develop a love of reading at a young age is essential.
“Reading opens up a multitude of possibilities in a child’s life,” said Vidler, who also is a board member for Mesquite ISD’s ReadPlayTalk early literacy program. “These kids are our future. We need to show that we care and let them know they are loved and needed, and that we are excited for all they will achieve.”
In addition to the challenge wrap party, readers were rewarded for every 250 pages they completed and logged using the Library’s READsquared tracker program. Smaller prizes included choosing and keeping a book from the Library, a beach ball, games, and coupons to Raising Cain’s, Whataburger and Texas Roadhouse restaurants.
Lola Paris, 10, said she blew past the 1,000-page goal and kept going. She finished with 6,371 pages read.
“I just couldn’t stop. I think the tracking part really kept me moving,” she said. “My favorite read of the summer was This is San Francisco. It’s nonfiction but tells a story. The drawings were amazing, too.”
Virginia Mundt, Director of Library Services, said it’s been a thrill to see participation levels at the Library return to pre-pandemic levels.
“It is fantastic to have readers back in the buildings,” Mundt said. “We had more than 5,100 people in attendance at Library programs this summer.”
The Mesquite Public Library System offers year-round programs for readers of all ages. To learn more, visit www.cityofmesquite.com/library.