Summer Reading Programs — Still Going Strong!
For many of my working years, summer was the busiest season, with preparations beginning months ahead. As a librarian for the Pioneer Library System, I understood that the months when school wasn’t in session were a wonderful time to bring children into the library and nourish the “reading seed” that would be so important to their success in school and in life.
We knew and appreciated all of the hard work that school teachers did during the other nine months, but we also knew that some of what was gained in reading skills would be lost if the vacation months were spent without books and reading.
So it was our task to plan a summer reading program with activities that would draw children into the library and would result in the children checking books out to take home. We were supported by materials and planning assistance by the state department of libraries and and supplemented their resources with local and state financial contributions, sponsorships and volunteers.
Those plans often included driving to other locations where there were children who couldn’t get to libraries, such as very rural towns in our service area, or taking the programs to places where children congregate, such as swimming pools or community centers.
And we succeeded! The libraries were overflowing with children during those months. (Some older and more sedate customers spread the word about the best times for their own library visits.) We challenged ourselves to entertain the children while we expanded their curiosity and helped develop their minds.
We met other challenges too, of the “if something can go wrong, it will” variety. (One of my most vivid memories includes several thousand “dormant” ladybugs waking up early and escaping the film containers that we had packed them in to give to the children.)
We also managed long lines of children with books to be checked out before and after the programs, plus the occasional child who needed to go to restroom during the activity. It was always a team effort and everybody pitched in to make things go smoothly.
It’s still happening in libraries across the country and today, I would like to congratulate my fellow librarians who are in the middle of their summer reading programs. It will soon be over for another year, but you will have the opportunity to do it again next summer. (I know that you’ll need a little breather before you begin thinking about that!) Then when you are retired, as I am, you can look back and remember all that you did, all the fun you had doing it, and how important it was for the children of your community. Hooray for summer reading at the library and those who make it possible!