summer reading.

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.

Miss Julie

6 responses to “summer reading.”

  1. Ohhh, I love it! I had visions of developing something like this for our library this year, but I ran out of time. Next year for sure.

    And you’re absolutely right about the value being in the process. I do think this is a value that a lot of librarians share, but it’s easy to get caught up in the expectations of the parents and the kids. At the last library I worked at, I overheard the parents at storytime discussing the different area libraries’ summer reading programs and which ones had the best prizes. So disheartening!

    And, of course, the SRC is also about how many kids you can get through the door. It’s hard times for libraries with budget cuts everywhere and having good stats helps protect us. But ALSO, getting the kids in the door is always going to be the first step, right? How can the library help anyone if they don’t come in the door first? (And I mean the metaphorical “come in the door” – including outreach and things like that, too.)

    Oy. I just wrote a novel of a comment. Apologies. 🙂 I love your prereader log and I might have to copy it a bit when I develop mine next year. 🙂


    1. No, thank you for your long comment! I appreciate the response. I’m glad you like the log. After this summer, I’ll be writing about how it worked with my families, so please check back and see how it went.

      Thanks for reading!


  2. Love the log and the idea. So few of us incorporate and/or advertise for our parents the six early literacy skills. Of course it doesn’t help that they are in “edu-speak”. These skills are so important and the way you incorporate them is great! I ran across an article last year that simplified the titles to really say what the skills are and blogged about it here:


  3. Hi Julie,
    This is fabulous! I’m going to be a K-2 school librarian next fall and would love to borrow some of your concepts!

    I’ve just started looking and your blog. Looks like you’re having a great time in children’s services!

    Your ole’ intern pal, Leslie 🙂


    1. Borrow away! That’s so exciting that you got a school library gig! That will be a great schedule for you and your kids.

      Anyway, thanks for reading–stop by often and share your ideas!


  4. […] Now that the program is winding down, there is much fretting about the NUMBERS! I am paranoid that my new program for pre-readers has negatively impacted the number of people finishing the program. I stand by my early literacy […]


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