Irvine has an abundance of summer enrichment programs, but the easiest to access is simply reading. Libraries, bookstores and summer camps all offer opportunity for summer reading programs. But to get kids to fall in love with a new book, there’s one spot that’s been serving the community for 20 years: A Whale of A Tale Children’s Bookshoppe.
It is owned and run by Alex Uhl whose passion is enhancing education and cultivating a love of books in our community’s children. She works with various local elementary schools (including Bonita Canyon, Westpark, Vista Verde, Plaza Vista, and University Park) and their librarians to put on events such as story time and author meet-and-greets. She also holds in-store events from time to time, bringing in authors and illustrators to share their works with our community.
At the store’s first location across from UCI in University Center, Uhl hosted J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter books, back in 1999, soon after the third book’s release, along with other well-know authors.
The current location is at Laguna Canyon Rd. and Alton Pkwy., in the center frequented by Blizzard workers, as the gaming company occupies a good deal of space in the area. The store set-up is welcoming to all children, with whimsical displays, a train table, and a farm animal activity set-up for tiny visitors.
A visit to this bookshop reminds us to put down our devices and cultivate a love of the physical book in our children.
Other reading and writing programs available this summer include UCI Summer Youth Program, which offers workshops to over 2,500 students, pre-K through grade 12. The workshops help students enhance the reading and writing abilities identified in the California Common Core State Standards, as well as helping inspire a love for the written word.
To further encourage a love of reading, Orange County Public Libraries hosts a summer reading program for kids. Irvine residents can stop by any of the three Irvine locations (Heritage Park, University Park, and Katie Wheeler, respectively) to learn more or to sign up.
For more advanced writers, the third annual Summer Writing Project opens on June 1, 2016. The program “presents authors with the opportunity to craft their novellas one chapter at a time with immediate quantitative and qualitative feedback from their readers, while also broadcasting their words to an audience eager for the next great storyteller.”