I owe, I owe, so off to read I go
Community service in lieu of paying fines is a common option given to adults facing some legal issue in court, but now the New York Public Library is applying the principle to children who owe outstanding fines. The twist is, instead of picking up trash by the side of the highway, the children can have the fines waived if they do one thing: read.
Beginning on July 25, children enrolled in the library system’s summer reading program will be able to knock $1 from their bill for every 15 minutes of reading they complete, according to Reuters news service. The children targeted by the new policy currently are barred from borrowing new items. “The country is in a pretty tough financial climate right now, and we know that kids more than ever need to use the library because their parents might not be able to afford to buy books or not be able to afford Internet access at home,” said Jack Martin, the library’s assistant director who oversees the summer reading program. “They’re embarrassed to come to the library — they think we’ll know they have fines and we’ll ask them to leave.”
The new program will be based on an honor system, because the library will not be monitoring children during their 15-minute reading sessions, and because the reading can be done at home. “We trust our kids,” Martin said.