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Gumball Challenge Gets Kids Reading

Weston librarian "Miss Joy" Beckwith has found a novel way to sweeten the summer reading program for kids. Beckwith, the town's children's librarian for 23 years, is encouraging children to read as much as they can this summer with her themed program, "Chews a Good Book: The Great Gumball Challenge."

Children who are up to the challenge sign up and get their name written on a paper gumball to add to the gumball machine on the bulletin board. For every four books read, the child earns a prize—from punch balls to beach balls to scratch-n-sniff bubblegum bookmarks that smell so real, Miss Joy says she'll have to make sure kids don't try to eat them.

While many of the schools in Connecticut are following the state's "Catch a Wave" summer reading theme, Miss Joy created the bubblegum theme on her own. "This I thought was so much fun. There's no pressure," she said.

Students from Weston are allowed to choose their own summer reading books and are not restricted to a list. "The nicest thing is elementary school students can read any books they want. Gov. Rell is trying to see how many books kids from Connecticut will read."

There will be a party to celebrate all the summer readers the first Wednesday in October, once the students have settled back into school. The party will be Halloween- themed and students will be encouraged to show up in costume.

Anyone interested in signing up for the program can do so in the library throughout the summer.

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