COVID-19 Won’t Stop Librarians from Promoting Summer Reading

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Summer reading helps kids stay engaged when school isn’t in session, ensuring that students are prepared and ready to learn when they return to the classroom in the fall. Libraries have long played a key role in hosting summer reading programs that are free and accessible to everyone in their communities, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events aren’t possible this season. Still, libraries across the country are offering virtual summer reading programs that allow students to safely participate while maintaining social distancing.

Readers can stock up on free eBooks and audiobooks from their libraries’ websites to enjoy over the summer. Many libraries are using online systems that allow community members to track their reading progress over the course of the summer; participants can enter to win prizes for accomplishing their reading goals, with libraries offering everything from books and gift cards to tablets and e-readers. Librarians have also been hosting virtual storytimes and other programs so that kids can experience the fun of the library from home.

Some libraries are seeking out community partnerships to expand the reach of their summer reading efforts. Muskingum County Library System in Ohio teamed up with WOUB Public Media’s Learning Lab to kick off their summer reading program with a virtual scavenger hunt. Kids can pursue an educational online adventure themed around the PBS Kids series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, learning about historical figures like Johann Sebastian Bach and Marie Curie along the way.

In addition to hosting expansive programming for children, some libraries are also providing summer reading opportunities for adults. Milwaukee Public Library has summer reading content for readers of all ages—adults can even take on special challenges focused on themes like history or poetry. Meanwhile, local kids can enjoy performances from guest educators like musicians and scientists to complement the learning they’re getting from books. “We know parents have been serving as teachers since school buildings closed, and some of them have done all the lesson planning they can stand,” the library's youth services coordinator, Kelly Wochinske, told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The reading program helps them out this year with a bunch of ways to keep learning that families can mix and match.”

Looking for awesome book recommendations for summer reading? Children’s librarians have compiled more than 100 recommendations for kids and families.