A Few Unique Ideas for Summer Reading Performers

In many places around our country, January equals cold temperatures, barren trees, and dark days (even as the sunlight slowly increases each day). The perfect time to discuss and start planning summer programming, am I right? In fact, I’m not the only one contemplating Summer, as Jonathan Dolce just posted a list of excellent resources on the collaborative summer library program theme in All Together Now 2023 SRP.

In addition to program planning, many of us may find ourselves starting the elusive search for performers. We hope to find the right combination of popularity and budget to draw our communities into participating in our Summer Reading Programs. Hopefully most of us involved in this tedious research already have a master list of performers or participate in library Facebook groups like Programming Librarian Interest Group to solicit ideas. My goal is not to offer ideas for big names or trends, but to instead invite you to consider other local organizations who may be interested in offering their unique services and specialties to the library. Some may even do it for free.  

Animal or Nature Conservation Organizations

Last summer we had an employee from our county’s Public Works department introduce Vermicomposting to kids and families. It’s truly delightful to watch preschoolers dig for worms in a controlled environment, yet also slightly anxiety-inducing as you hope they handle the annelids gently. This year I hope to wrangle our local 4H to come lead a petting zoo starring their participants’ animals. 

Early Childhood Music Classes

Kindermusik, Mommy and Me, and Music Together are just a sample of organizations and companies I’ve seen who offer young child/caregiver music classes. Some of these may provide a free class at the library to promote their business or maybe give a good deal on a short series. You can also create your own music program for babies or young children as described in the post “Baby & Preschool Music Programs & You.”Welcome to the #ALSC22 Choir” also offers excellent tips on how to search for inclusive and antiracist music. 

Dance Studios

Recently a teacher at a local dance studio approached one of our youth services librarians with the idea for a short ballet performance based on a picture book. Dance students performed original choreography based on Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae to the joy of young children in the community. 

Opera Companies

Many opera companies have an education and outreach department. If there’s something for school-age children, it’s probably scalable for younger audiences or an all-ages program. Our local opera company offers virtual options, which allowed us to provide a special Opera Storytime when our library system was still closed in Summer 2020. Virtual may be an option if you’re not located in a city with an active opera company. 

It Never Hurts to Ask

Is there an organization with whom you’re involved or have an interest? Give them a call or send a message to learn your options. What other organizations do you think would make good summer reading program performers or events? Drop them in the comments.


Meg Beade Stowe is co-chair of the Early Childhood Program and Services Committee and a Youth Services Librarian at Kitsap Regional Library. 

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