Summer reading is almost here with all of the busy days, fantastic programs, and hours of summer learning that it brings. For almost everyone, the time for summer reading planning is over. Now, it’s all about execution. But before summer reading gets into full swing, take a step back and ask yourself: are the planned summer reading activities for everyone? Or, another way of looking at this question, are the current activities representative of the entire community?
Incorporating more underserved communities into summer reading doesn’t have to mean a retooling of the entire summer reading calendar. Instead, a lot of progress can be made with relatively small efforts. One of the best ways can be to incorporate more diverse voices into SRP. This can mean subbing in a book at storytime or book club from an author whose background is typically underrepresented or making sure that diversity shows through in displays that are made all summer long. Incorporating diverse voices can also take a more invisible but still tangible form. A good question for every team to ask is “Can every person on the team that interacts with young readers provide reading guidance that reflects the diversity of the community?” If not, there are still a few weeks to brush up on new releases or to hold a short training on titles that everyone should be aware of.
Another way libraries can make sure that summer reading is truly for everyone is for each library to think about ways of incorporating different people into activities through early preparation or on the fly changes. No library wants a person to feel out of place because the library didn’t leave room for a wheelchair at a performance or a program leader doesn’t know how to respond to a child with sensory processing difficulties. A good way of thinking about these things ahead of time is to come up with potential scenarios and provide them to the team to ponder so they can generate possible solutions. The scenarios can be drawn from the library’s past experiences, or they can be developed based on anticipated needs. Either the entire team can brainstorm together, or each person can work on them alone. The goal is to start conversations and to empower individuals to demonstrate their thinking and solve problems in the moment to make SRP a more fun and fulfilling experience for all involved. This can be especially powerful for new staff members who have limited SRP or general programming experience to give them a better feel for how to create a more inclusive environment.
The main goal of SRP is to enrich participants and to provide fantastic learning opportunities throughout the summer. In many libraries, it is the biggest programming part of the year. So, to make sure that everyone is included, take a little time this month to make sure that your summer reading reflects all the possible participants in as many ways as possible.