Blogger Kelley Beeson

I’m Saying It: Down with Summer Reading Club

OK, not totally down with it, but now that I have your attention…  see, at my library, we’re looking hard at what our SRC has become and asking ourselves what we really want for the kids in our community over the summer.  And I’m not sorry to say, it’s a heckuva lot more than sitting in a room reading 30 books over the summer – and maybe (eek!) it’s not that at all!

For about 5 years now, I’ve felt like the traditional SRC structure is outdated and only serving avid/passionate readers.  And frankly, those readers will read no matter what. What I want for my kids in the summer, is great ways to have fun, get engaged, get involved, meet new people, relax, and through allllllllllll of that, maybe learn a few things. But see, it’s the fun, engaging, involved, meeting and relaxing bits I want to focus on.  The reading comes after…or, not at all.  I know that’s an insane thing to say as a librarian. But I’m thinking if we get kids interested in doing stuff, then perhaps we can sell them on reading about that stuff they’re doing!  And if not, well, they’re still learning and that’s ultimately what we want.

So we’re not even going to take registrations for a reading club this year. Cough cough. That’s right.  In fact, I wouldn’t even say we’re doing a ‘reading club’ this summer.  We’re headed away from all that in a big way.  We’re looking at Maker, STEAM and Digital Learning, people.  Bring it ON!

I live in a city where we have a Hive Learning network which is part of a larger ReMake Learning movement in Pittsburgh for kids K-12.  And last summer, our city and a ton of organizations (including a few libraries) did the City of Learning thang.  6 cities in the country are involved so I feel pretty darn lucky to have something like this to plug into.


My staff and I are starting a 4-month journey away from SRC.  We’re packing up and heading out.  I think we’re done here and we’re ready to break out and start a revolution. I’ll be posting in February, March, April and May about what we’re doing (who knows!), where we’re headed (who knows!) and how it’s going to work (who knows!)  Maybe you’d like to tag along.


  1. Gwen Vanderhage

    Wow. I look forward to following your experiences!

  2. Marge Loch-Wouters

    Good for you! If folks want to read about other experiences in throwing off the old SLP/SRC paradigm, I have a Summer Reading Revolution Pinterest Board with additional posts and links here:

  3. Kelly Doolittle

    Libraries have historically been at the forefront of revolutionary ideas 🙂 (Serve the community well without making a profit beyond what you need to serve the community well!!)

    Have fun!

  4. Dianna Burt

    How wonderful! I feel like our SRP summer reading program has gone way beyond just summer reading now for years! It’s more a summer of learning. I love your enthusiasm and can’t wait to see what you do. I’ll definitely check out that summer reading revolution on Pinterest.

  5. Rebecca Willhite

    We always have so many kids sign up for SRC who don’t seem to participate. We know they are reading, but they’re not turning in their reading logs. We’ve logged reading time and handed out cheap weekly prizes for the last 8 years at least, but this year we are doing away with that. Instead, we are using “game boards” where kids can choose from activities such as “attend a library program,” or “read a story to your little brother or sister.” We were afraid that the kids were too focused on reading for X number of hours in order to get a big prize instead of reading for the enjoyment of it. Not sure how it’s all going to shake out, but we are excited!

  6. Kim Dunderdale

    I am curious to see how the program may or may not impact the kids who don’t normally come to the library let alone participate in the summer reading program. Keep us posted.

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