Ok, let’s just get it out of the way right here, right now. I don’t hate the summer reading program at the library. It is a fun way to motivate kids to read. However, for reasons that I’ll explain below, I’ve decided there are other options out there that I like better.
Rewind to 5 years ago, and I was the mother to a super cute 3-year-old who was almost as excited as I was to sign up for our local library’s summer reading program. We were ready to get our book-driven learning adventures started for the summer. We walked in, asked the librarian for the paperwork, and proceeded to browse the shelves to find some of our favorites to take home. When I took the paperwork home and looked at the detailed explanation of how the program worked I was a little surprised by what I saw.
The Library Summer Reading Program Is About More Than Reading
Like most reading programs, the idea is to read a book and then fill in a bubble, or star, (or whatever the shape may be) on the reading log. Then, when they are all filled in, you can take the form back to the library in exchange for a reward. Here’s what it took to be able to fill in the bubble:
- read a book (obviously)
- color a picture, write a story, do a craft or other creative project
- learn online or visit a museum
- play a game inside, outside, by yourself or with a friend
- attend a variety of community or library or community events
Those are all great things, right?! Of course. But are you catching on to why this might be a little disappointing to my young mother heart? It has very little to do with actually reading!
Summer Reading at the Library is More About TV Than Reading
After reading the list above, I came to the conclusion that my child could do pretty much anything he wanted, besides watch TV, and get credit for it. We were already doing those activities, so where was the challenge?
Encouraging children to participate in activities, other than watch TV, over summer vacation is definitely a noble cause. Remember, I said I don’t hate the library program. It has its purpose. But for me, I would like a reading program that is all about reading.
“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle
There Are Other Reading Programs Out There
Good news! There are other blogs, websites, businesses, etc. out there that offer their own summer reading programs. I’ll just mention a few of my favorites.
The first is found at Homeschool Solutions with Pam Barnhill. I really like Pam’s program because it helps my children get out of their reading “comfort zones”. It inspires my kids to choose books outside of the books they normally reach for.
Children are given one-word prompts and then asked to find whatever book they would like to read following that guideline.
For example, if my son chose the word “exciting” he could go pick any book he wanted to that he felt would be exciting, an exciting adventure, an exciting topic to explore, however, he would like to interpret the word. She also provides a summer reading bucket list to give you ideas for fun places or ways to read the books. So awesome!
Scholastic also hosts a summer reading program! This one is based on the number of minutes read. Children can participate with a school, community group or individually with a parent’s help. The more minutes read, the more opportunities kids have to earn digital rewards and prizes. They also help to reach goals that turn into books donated to charity!
Check out the links below for more fun summer reading opportunities! Happy reading!
More fun links for summer reading:
- Reading Rockets is a literacy initiative with connections to PBS programming. This is not a reading program, but it’s a great resource on the whys and hows of great summer reading.
- Barnes and Noble also has a great summer reading program. It’s a great way to earn a free book!