Blogger Abby Johnson

Debriefing Summer Reading

Speaking for public children’s and teen librarians all over the country: we’re exhausted. It’s been a long summer filled with programs, unexpected visits from day camps, placing holds on Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Pinkalicious, unattended kids spending the entire day on the computer, and (of course) Summer Reading Club.

My library’s Summer Reading Club ended on Saturday. The grand prize winners have been drawn and we’ve taken down our decorations. Of course, we’ll still accept reading logs and give out coupons and prizes while supplies last. I know some libraries are still going strong, but our public schools start back on August 15, so this is the perfect time for me to look back at what a summer we’ve had.

My library participated in the Collaborative Summer Library Program and used the theme One World, Many Stories. I am not one to stick hard and fast to a theme at the expense of doing the programs or activities we want to do, but I liked this theme because it pushed us to do some different kinds of programming. We held book chats on books set in different countries, encouraged kids to read books set around the world, hosted an international storyteller and an African drumming workshop, and held a whole series of toddler storytimes on visiting other countries. Of course, we had plenty of off-theme programs, too, like Life-Sized Candy Land, a Harry Potter party, and our Dragon Slayers Fantasy Book Club.

This year, we implemented a pre-readers’ program for the first time and people really responded to it. Having a special club for pre-readers really helped us design a program that would encourage early literacy. We didn’t specify ages, but next year I think we’ll limit it to kids 2 years and under because I think they seemed to get the most out of it. (Of course, our limits will be suggestions – we always aim to be flexible!)

In June, I posted about our Reading Around the World bulletin board and I’m happy to announce that it was a success! Here’s how our bulletin board looks at the end of the summer:

Even though we just finished, I’m already thinking about what we want to change for next year. For the past couple of years, we’ve counted the number of books or pages read and next year I’d like to try out measuring time spent reading instead. I’m also going to figure out something to make it easier for our local daycares and summer camps to participate. Although it may seem like it’s too early to be thinking about it, I like to meet with my staff in August and jot down notes for next year about what we liked and what we didn’t like. That way, when we really start planning we’ll have some notes to start with.

This year, I blogged weekly about our Summer Reading Club and a lot of nice folks joined me in blogging about Summer Reading, so I wanted to collect all the links together. I love seeing what other libraries are doing! Check out Summer Reading posts from:

Drea at Book Blather
Eva at Eva’s Book Addiction
Kelly at Field Acquisitions
Julie at Hi Miss Julie!
Jennifer at Jean Little Library
Jessica at Musings from a Library Lady
Jen at NerdGirlBlogging
Katie at Read What You Know
Andrea at rovingfiddlehead kidlit
Anne at so tomorrow
Marge at Tiny Tips for Library Fun
Mollie at What Happens in Storytime

So, how did/is your Summer Reading Club go(ing) this year?

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. ET

    Great summer in Tulsa! We are a 25 location system and have had Summer Reading Program since the early 80s. This year we had 45,500 children, tweens, and teens sign-up for the program and about 25,000 complete it to earn prizes so far. All told, summer readers have read over 382,000 books while participating in SRP. Children teens and tweens also attended programming in record numbers. We love our SRP in Tulsa!

  2. Jen

    I was initially a little nervous about this summer’s theme, but it ended up being so much fun!

    One of our patrons’ favorite things to do was to add stickers to our giant map. We hung up a large world map in our children’s area and let people put up yellow stickers for places they have visited and pink stickers for where they want to visit. By then end of the summer, there were so many stickers, it was awesome!

  3. Chris

    One thing that we do to make it easier for day care and summer camp groups to participate is allow the group leader to sign up the group and record books read to or by the group as a whole. We allow the kids (or group leaders) to choose whether to read 15 books or for 15 hours, then each child selects a book from our prize cart. (Group leaders select one book per child in the group.) Since it’s a one-to-a-customer prize, that works well for both individuals and groups.

  4. Kathleen

    I would love to hear more about your pre-readers program. It might be a great way for me to introduce the idea to my staff/co-workers and get more young children and parents into the library!

    1. Abby

      Hi Kathleen, I’ve uploaded our pre-readers game board on Scribd – here’s a link:

      The formatting’s a little messy on there, but you get the idea. Our patrons seemed to like it! For next year, I’m going to try to figure out how to include more early literacy information within the game board to ensure that parents know WHY they’re doing these activities. We required them to complete any 8 of the 16 possible spaces and everyone had no problems completing that. Next year we might require them to do more activities to earn the prize because I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that.

  5. Karen

    It’s over. We handed out logs, placed holds, danced, sang and boogied on our Riverwalk. We are exhausted, but we had fun and I think the kids did too. Overall I think our numbers are up. We are in the second year of our reading club for,which has been a huge success. Do any of you have a grace period where reading logs can still be returned after the program is over? I wish we didn’t. Did I mention we are exhausted and all we have left are the crummy prizes no one wants. Oh, well time to start planning for Winter Reading Program.

  6. suzi w.

    We have a few more days left (until Saturday.) Hallelujah!! We are a large one location library outside Pittsburgh that serves 30 schools, so our 2000+ participants doesn’t even scratch the surface of our base. We use teen volunteers (bless them) for our sign-ins. Our method of “counting” is library visits. You get a raffle ticket every time you come in. People still get confused, since our chatscky prize is a weekly prize…

    We divided our program by weeks into continents, so each week after the first week had a book display, book list, program, based on that area of the world. I took Europe. My program was an “Oktoberfest in July” with root beer tasting, pretzels, a story, and a craft. It was a drop in program and I would do it again. It was fun having people talking about the German restaurants in town or telling me that they would love to go to Germany.

    Thank you for mentioning how exhausted we all are.

  7. Michelle M.

    It was interesting to see everyone’s activities for Summer Reading. I also have been posting about Summer Reading on my blog. Abby, you had said if you missed our blog, to post the link here. Here it is:

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