What’s a Summer Reading Program?
Every year public libraries all over the US are funded through tax dollars to organize events and interactive programs that engage the public to read more. It helps keep kids think critically and battles the dreaded “summer learning loss” that teachers warn of when kids are out of school for three long months. While it was an initiative started at the turn of the century to encourage elementary grade students to read more over the summer, over 95% of public libraries in the United States offer summer reading incentives for adults as well as for children and teenagers, and the concept is spreading worldwide.
Finding Great Titles to Read
Summer is a great time to discover a new book since all the television shows are on hiatus. Many libraries have a special shelf for those who can read a book in under a week, offering all the most coveted best-sellers without a waiting list. If fiction is not for you, how about a good biography, history book, or even a how-to manual? Do you have a close friend who always recommends great movies, shows, or restaurants? Think of public librarians as the people you can go to who know all the best books being published. Since public libraries specialize in popular reading material for the masses, they are experts on finding fun, entertaining, or useful materials for you.
Find These Books at Your Local Library:
- World War Z by Max Brooks: This first-person narrative of a fictional zombie war is surprisingly realistic. Read this one if you like historical fiction or if you just want to image Brad Pitt while you read. We won’t tell.
- Joyland by Stephen King: This creepy read has a murder mystery set in a decrepit, old amusement park. Sounds like a recipe for one freaky tale, and King never fails to give the heebie-jeebies.
- A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin: Yes, it’s even better than the show, and packed with more violence, sex, and cliffhangers than anything on HBO.
Gillian Flynn: A masterfully crafted mystery that turns around half-way through, written like a paperback in conversational, even conspiratorial tones that will make you feel like the narrators are your close friends. (See our writer Tara’s full review here.)
- The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg: These two authors give you the best of both worlds, Evanovich with her humorous, romantic writing and Goldberg using his experience as a television producer to make the story a real page-turner. Nick Fox, a handsome yet naughty con man, meets his match in this fast-paced novel when FBI agent Kate O’Hare takes on the challenge.
How the Library Works for You
Check in to get a great book and you may find that the experience is rewarding in more ways than one. Some libraries offer raffle prizes, tote bags, toys, or other fun incentives when you check out a certain number of books during the entire summer period. Many libraries offer coupons for free food and others can get you into a local museum for free when you check out books. Every library is different, but they all like to do something special for the summer time. The only way you’ll know is to ask! It’s a fun way to stay connected to your community while also instilling the value of reading in your household.
Staying Cool and Hanging Out
Most libraries offer more events during the summer months because their funding has increased for summer reading programs. It’s a great time to check out the programs your library offers, such as book clubs, crafting, or instructional sessions. Generally these events are free unless registration is required or special supplies are needed. Another plus is that most public libraries have air conditioning and hanging out inside can be a great way to stay cool without running up your own electricity bill. Check out your local library’s schedule of events this summer!
Just for Kids
Since the whole idea started as a booster for the education-free summer, check out the academic resources at the library, too! Your kids might benefit from some free tutoring, being read to by a volunteer, or even a specialized event that helps them apply for scholarships. The library where I work has some amazing resources for teens such as SAT pre-tests, help with college applications, and even a workshop where teens can hone their resume for summer jobs. The younger kids benefit from special story time events where librarians read and interact with them, craft making, and even magicians or puppet shows that aim to entertain!
Just because you can’t get to the library doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it! Lots of libraries now offer plenty of amazing things online that you can get with the click of a mouse. Those nice, easy beach reads are just as fun when you’re reading them on your electronic reading device, which weighs even less then a paperback. Trying to get in shape so you can fit in your bikini better? Try a downloadable audiobook, which can be listened to on various devices! Learn a new language on audiobook while you work out and work out both your brain and your body! Check your public library’s website for e-book options or downloadable audiobooks.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever gotten for free at the public library?