Blogger Katie Salo

Summer Reading for Pre-Readers

Most children’s librarians are nearing the end of their summer reading programs and are finally feeling a bit of relief from their busy schedules. As for me, I’m already jotting down notes and making plans for improvement for next year.

A few years back, my staff and I decided to create a separate program for children not yet reading independently. We created a new reading log, set a goal of listening to 25 books over an eight-week period and ultimately put the decision in the parent’s hands as to which program their child would register for. The program was a moderate success and we’ve continued it since then.

Even though we didn’t get the immediate response I wanted from the community, it was an easy program to do because we used the same prizes and the same reporting system as the youth program. It was worth it to see the accomplishments and the pride that our littlest patrons had on their faces.

This year, however, my library had a pretty large increase in pre-readers registering for summer reading. And now I’m thinking about making the program bigger for next summer now that I have a larger base group to work with!

Instead of just books, I want to incorporate literacy activities. I’ve already thought of a few, and have plenty of time to research for next year. (I’m especially interested in the re-tooled Every Child Ready to Read package!) But I have to ask — do you have any tried and true literacy activities that you’ve used in summer reading reporting?

I’ll be eagerly awaiting your ideas!

– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library


  1. Kelly

    I did literacy activities for my pre-reader program. There were 30 activities, ranging from “sing a silly song with your child’s name” to “write a list of items you’d take to the beach” (letter recognition, etc.). I’d be happy to send you my list, if you’d like!

    And what a timely post. I’m eager to see what others do.

  2. Allison Madsen

    My library system includes pre-readers in our regular summer reading program by encouraging parents to read to their children. However, this year my system decided to offer a summer reading program for children 3 and younger. It is called Globe Toddlers to tie in with the Summer Reading theme of World travel. Instead of timed reading sessions, parents were instructed to do one of the following activities with their child.
    “Read a board book, Sing a song, Play with shape blocks, Let your child draw a picture
    Read a picture book, Tell your child a story, Play with alphabet shapes, Play with finger paint or pudding, Recite a nursery rhyme and clap along, Point out signs and labels to your child, Dance together to your favorite song, Play with shakers or other rhythm instruments, Narrate your daily activities to your child, Have a reading play date with friends, Look at family albums or scrapbooks together and tell the stories behind the pictures. Remember, young children have short attention spans.
    They will let you know when it is time to stop.”

    The Utah State library has a Early Literature initiative called Utah Kids Ready to Read. This new toddler program helps us encourage parents to do the types of activities that promote early literacy. The parents have absolutely LOVED this program.

  3. Marge Loch-Wouters

    Love the ideas. We developed a birth to 2 year old SLP program based on an earlier post here by Karen Burke at the Naperville (IL) Public Library. It was a huge hit. You can read more about it here at my blog:

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