Blogger Jonathan Dolce

Imagine Your COVID Summer Slide Story!

Darth Vader reading on a playground slide

Imagine Your COVID Summer Slide Story?

Summer slide in the age of COVID.  I don’t think anyone can really imagine what this summer will look like in terms of a summer reading program for any age group.  The show must go on, though – so let’s imagine your story together!


Scheduling a time for your summer reading program is essential.  Pick you set of dates, beginning and ending, as well as your “big” program days.  You’ve had some practice with online programming by now.  Now, just do it bigger!


Familiarity is critical for your audience.  It gives a sense of anticipation, a recognizable (or branding) setting, and a reassuring repetition.  If the space you’ve been using for online programming isn’t as polished as you’d like it, time to refine!  Sound problems?  Get them ironed out!  This is crunch time!


Your list of supplies this summer is going to be radically different.  Or is it?

  • Gather your books – these are your front-line troops for your programming
  • Send out PDFs of reading logs for your readers to utilize.  Not a CSLP participant?  No probem, RIF has you covered!
  • Or use this one!  — Encourage summer reading with this print-and-use tracking sheet. [READ MORE]
  • Games for summer reading?  There’s lots of downloadable, literacy-based apps you can send out to your readers
  • Curbside service and limited numbers of people in the library will not keep readers away.  Make sure you’ve got the top books for this summer in easy browsing areas.  Oh!  And push those library card sign ups!  Some libraries are going 100% digital with these, too.
  • And for your parents, load them up with resources for growing readers

Push Reading Every Day

We encourage our parents and caregivers to read to or with their children every day and summer’s no different.  What does that mean for the public librarian?  Lots!

    • Post something every day that is summer-reading themed –  photos and videos.  Even if they are short Tik-Tok videos or visual one-liners.  Let your patrons know you are thinking about them and cheering them on!
    • You’re not on social media?  Come on!  Even Elmo is on Instagram
    • Keep your displays fresh and full!
    • Remain flexible in your planning.  When things occur to you midstream through summer reading, ADAPT!  Add them to your planned programming or change up your existing ones to incorporate your brainstorms!


  • Encourage parents to encourage their kids to download this app from RIF!  Literacy-Central_App-icon

    Download the Literacy Central App

    to help kids take reading
    wherever they go this summer


Sight Words All Summer Long

How – oh, how – can you help children practice sight words all summer long?  You’ve got options!

  • Of course, in your regular online programming – but you knew that already.  BUT!  You can one up yourself.  Go beyond flashcards by demonstrating how kids can make sight words out of unusual materials, like play doughs, straws, slime, kinetic sand, shaving foam, dog food…okay, maybe not dog food.

play dough recipes





Click to enlarge







video still of a sidewalk chalk obstacle course

Hiding the Math Pill

Helping kids practice math all summer is essential.  Summer slide isn’t just about reading.  It’s every subject!  How can we help?

I Haven’t Written Anything All Summer

I have literally said the words, “I haven’t written anything all summer”.  Of course, that was about three decades – or more – ago, but you take my point.  Writing for kids has to make sense, though, so don’t just start them out rattling off any old words.

  • Encourage parents to have their children try to fill out reading logs themselves
  • Have parents have their children write down things they’ve learned from the books they’ve read.  Or children can write about the things they’ve tried out thanks to your amazing selections!  Have them take photos and make a journal!
  • Writing can also mean writing to relatives — help this along by having kids write to their relatives all about their summer reading adventures!
  • Need some more writing activity ideas?  Writing Activities Pinterest board

Fine Motor Skills Away from Electronics

Fine motor skills away from electronics mean that children will be more able to develop and practice their writing skills.  So, how do you practice these without a pencil? (no, the answer is not use a pen)

  • Practice handwriting — as opposed to printing?  Yeah, for some this will mean learning along with your child
  • Make and play with homemade play doughs
  • Teach your patrons weaving online, or maybe show them how to make easy lacing cards right at home.
  • Let my fingers do the walking for you: Lessons Learnt Journal’s Fine Motor Skills Pinterest board

If It’s Dry to You

Is it dry outside or is it just your programming?  If what you’re offering is dry to you, it’s going to be drivel for your audience.  Children learn best through play, so make your interactions with them – passive or otherwise – playful.

Still stuck?  Here you go!

Need more ways to keep kids entertained?
Check out our resource page for a treasure trove of free activities to help with your at-home learning needs! Download teacher’s guides, coloring sheets, word searches, memory games, and much more!
  Browse resources!  

Keep your youngsters reading throughout the summer with this delicious reading program. [READ MORE]

Want more summer reading activities? [READ MORE]


Some dork on a slide” – photo courtesy of Tristan VanCise

Darth Vader reading on a playground slide


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