I have a complex relationship with the institution of summer reading. I never participated in summer reading as a child, which may explain my lack of zealous enthusiasm for it. I do see its value, and I do love that it gets kids into the library, but there is something about the entire exercise that ultimately leaves me feeling a bit letdown.
I’m trying to make the summer reading program experience a bit more worthwhile for our youngest patrons. What does that mean? Well, it means I created a summer reading log for pre-readers (at my library, four months – Kindergarten and by request*) that demands a bit more from the people who use it: summerpreread3
Previous logs for pre-readers involved little more than listing titles read. With this log (based in part on a version the Bartlett Public Library produced) I’ve asked that the parent or adult reading to the child take the time to incorporate activities that will help their child master the six early literacy skills.
I don’t think asking parents to interact with their children while they read will place an undue stress on them. In fact, I might just be giving them a more precise vocabulary and concise description for things they are already doing with their children. But for the parent that is unaware of how much these simple activities and interactions can help their child, I think that this simple little summer reading log could provide valuable information and service.
I have high expectations of myself as a librarian, and I also have high expectations of the parents of the children that I serve. I believe that if people are shown that a summer reading program can be more than getting free toys and a free book, they will find more value in it. I want my summer reading program to be more about the process rather than the prize. I do not think that this is a philosophy that other librarians share. If they do, I surely would like to hear about it. I feel like the cheese, standing alone, starting to stink.
What are your thoughts about summer reading? Is it all about the number of people you get in the door, or is it about the experience itself? Or somewhere in the middle?
*By request means that if there is a person of any age who feels that the pre-reader program best meets their needs, they are welcome to sign up for it. I mostly think that this will apply to older children/adults with developmental delays.