Summer Reading Programs Reimagined
Summer is officially here. Normally, this would mean daily trips to the pool, summer camp, and afternoons spent at the local public library reading and participating in annual summer reading programs. But for many, COVID-19 has changed what this summer is going to look like.
Fortunately, you can still pick up a good book and use your imagination to escape into a story. Over the past few months, we have seen public libraries reimagine the way they operate to meet the needs of their communities during these unprecedented times. And thankfully, many libraries have found ways to move their summer reading programs online—even revamping or expanding them.
Programs may look different from state to state and sometimes even library to library, but here are a few examples:
In Arkansas, the Arkansas State Library's annual statewide reading program, If All Arkansas Read the Same Book, will be a virtual event this year with READsquared, an online platform made possible through an IMLS CARES Act award. Instead of an in-person author speaking tour, the state library will host two 90-minute virtual sessions with author Kim Michele Richardson that will be available statewide, as well as additional activities and programs via social media that are planned to encourage reading and discussing Richardson's bestselling novel, "The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek" across the state throughout the summer.
In Wilmington, Ohio, Blanchester Public Library is working to make its summer reading program available to everyone. Community members who sign up can pick up registration bags, including a “Summer Reading” yard sign, via curbside pickup. They also can sign up for Storytime-to-Go bundles for children under 13. The bundles contain three themed books, at-home activity sheets, and a hands-on craft.
In Utah, the Grand County Library is using a grant from the Utah State Library and IMLS to offer their own Imagine Your Story online summer reading challenge. Focusing on fantasy, fairytales, and folk stories, children and adults alike are invited to participate by reading, joining in on activities and programs, and exploring their digital resources. The best part? Community partners City Market and Moonflower Market are donating $100 to the Grand County Food Bank for every 10,000 minutes logged in the app. So, far they have donated $500—and the community is just getting started.
In Maryland, the Harford County Public Library has launched Imagine Your Story: Summer Reading Virtual Adventure 2020 for all ages. Participants will sign up via an online platform, set their own goals, unlock games, and earn badges as they read throughout the summer. Harford County Public Library also is partnering with the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball and EVERFI to bring children between the ages of 8 and 11 an additional fun, interactive, online activity that uses the game of baseball to help kids maintain their math and literacy skills during the summer months.
In Maine, thanks to a CARES Act award from the Maine State Library and IMLS, the York Public Library is utilizing an online program called Beanstack, where participants of all ages will be able to track their summer reading, complete fun activities, and earn raffle tickets for chances to win real prizes.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, a local school district is really getting creative. Determined not to let a pandemic keep students from their summer reading, middle school librarian Kelly Passek collaborated with drone company Wing (run by Google’s parent company, Alphabet) to deliver books to students. One week into the project, there have been more than 35 successful drone deliveries.
Wondering what your local or state library is offering this summer? Check out their websites to learn more. These reading programs are a fun, free way to engage with your community and challenge yourself over the summer. The only question remaining is which book to start with.
Photo courtesy of Meridian Library District.