RED WING — Many things are changing at the Red Wing Public Library for their annual summer activities. Instead of having in-person, immersive programming, the library took a step back and readjusted to a virtual summer. This is a big shift from the usual dynamic schedule of activities and events it has hosted in the past.

This virtual format will consist of new software for the summer reading challenge, which will have a variety of different prizes for all ages. Beanstack, the virtual version of Summer Reading, can be found online and downloaded as an app on your smartphone or tablet.

“Parents will create accounts for themselves and for their kids. Adults will create their own account, and teens can choose to stay on their parents’ account or create their own," said Megan Seeland, children’s and teen services librarian. "The kids, the teens, and the adults will be tracking reading this summer using time.”

Kids, teens and adults will all have different requirements to complete the summer reading program.

  • Kids — (from birth to sixth grade) have a goal of 30 hours. This amounts to 30 minutes a day for two months.
  • Teens (6-12 grade) can read for up to 300 hours. This amounts to five hours a day for 60 days.
  • Adults (18 and up) 300 hours. Same amount as teens.

“It’s structured so you can scan your books and see how much time you have been reading and the books you’ve been reading," Seeland said. "For everybody, when you hit a specific goal time you unlock these badges, little virtual stickers. Across the board for kids, teens and adults, when you hit five hours of reading your prize is a Red Wing Public Library book tote.

“For the kids, as they continue to read and get badges after they hit the five-hour mark, they hit badges every couple of hours. Instead of all the little pencils and stickers and tattoos that we used to give out every week, kids will be reading to collect different sets of bird badges — all native to Minnesota, of course!”

After the kids achieve the book bag after reading for five hours, they can work for four different prizes, including summer treat coupons, all donated by local businesses, free books and gaining tickets to enter a raffle for themed baskets of books and other summer fun if kids complete the 30-hour reading program. For teens and adults, gift cards will be available as prizes along with donations from local small businesses for the teen program.

Amy Smith, one of the librarians choosing prizes for the summer reading challenge, said, “The goal is to keep adults reading too.”

To register for summer reading through Beanstack, go to redwing.beanstack.org, or download the Beanstack app. Pre-registration for summer reading will be available Monday, June 22. The official start date is Monday, June 29 and the program will conclude Monday, Aug. 24.

“This software is also not just for summer reading,” Seeland said. "It will be utilized by different programs and challenges that take place during the fall. This is going to be a massive paper save. Less time spent on paperwork means more time reading, getting outside, and helping to protect our planet, one reading log at a time.”

What about community members without internet access? Reading time can also be logged at home, on paper, and library staff can enter it into Beanstack — or patrons can make computer appointments at the library, and staff can help get individuals and families registered and logging during a library visit.

Including this new software, online storytimes are going to continue to be available as live streams, in accordance with copyright law, and can be found on the Red Wing Public Library’s Facebook page. Along with virtual story times, Lego Club 2.0 provides an opportunity for kids to get creative, with weekly build challenges issued on Mondays and kids’ creations collected in a digital display case on Fridays, all of which can be found on the library’s website.

Coming as a new addition, one of the windows at the library will be dedicated to a game of I Spy where the competitors try to find a changing collection of book characters and other objects in a jigsaw puzzle of items.

And, in July, there will be a series of Take and Make origami projects that will get more challenging as the summer progresses.

A lot of different activities will be available this summer, but the most important one to check out is the new Beanstack software program. People of all ages can register for summer reading. A bonus? Once you register this year, you’re all set for many summers to come. This software program is going to include lots of prizes for all ages to enjoy, so make sure you check it out and get reading!