summer reading

10 04 2012

summer reading


We have, of course, our many summertime staples.

Beach chairs:


The beach:




this is the summer reading program theme this year.

That’s right, folks, summer reading is just around the corner. This year (2012) the theme for summer reading is Own The Night. (This is the teen summer reading program, FYI; the kids’ one is called Dream Big.)

If you’re wondering why the themes, every year the library association that runs the programs (that many libraries are a part of) chooses two themes for the programs: one for teens and one for kids.

This year we have Own The Night focusing on the stars and astronomy and teens being strong and “owning the night”.  Usually the themes can be expanded onto a lot of different topics; they’re wide and diverse and can be used to create a lot of programs and activities and events. This year has a really good theme, I think. Our public library is doing some star themed events — we’re doing an event with an astronomer and an event about dream journals — but we’re also doing workshops on empowerment (always a good thing!) and a writing workshop with an author whose characters literally “own the night”.

Now, with that brief bit of intro, what exactly does summer reading do?

Well, above all, it’s a way for librarians to connect with readers. Many of the teens that come in may not come in during the school year, or may just come for the plethora of programs. This lets librarians meet more teens, connect with them, and can help create and expand their reading.

But the programs are a bit of a win-win for teens too. They can come in and do fun events and have something to do. Many libraries also have a calendar-type of reading log, where you can record what you read and how long you read for. Once you reach a certain amount (whether that be a certain number of pages or minutes) you can redeem it for a prize of some sort, like a gift card or a free book.

So teens get events and prizes, and librarians get a chance to connect with teens that they may not always see around.

Pretty good, right?

There are some things that may crop up as well. Budgets can be tough for summer reading, especially with having to furnish many prizes for winners. (The gift cards are often very small amounts such as $5 or $10–though 10 dollars may be a stretch–dollars. The books are often ARCs that the librarian has received or books that the librarian purchased specifically for summer reading.) Another issue with budgets is organizing events, making sure to have good events that still stick in your assigned budget range.

It’s also a lot of work, organizing all the programs and signing people up and making sure everything runs smoothly. It’s a hard job to run a summer reading program. But, amazingly, many, many great librarians run fantastic ones.

The size of summer reading programs can depend, too. Bigger libraries may have more events and more teens signed up and more prizes. Smaller libraries may have fewer patrons and fewer events.

Really, above all, the librarian(s) running the summer reading program get to do whatever they’d like to do, as long as it pertains to the year’s theme and the teen age group.

Summer reading is a really fun way to do have fun at your library in the summer, and if you can, I hope you check out the local program at your library, and maybe try and attend a few events. And for librarians, great work even when it gets hard.

Let’s all Own the Night this summer. It’s going to be hard work but a heck of a fantastic time.




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