It’s summer in the United States, which means it’s time for the Summer Reading Program (SRP)! When I moved away from my hometown, I was excited to learn that my new library also has a Summer Reading Program for people over the age of eighteen, so I can participate even if I’m not a kid anymore! After talking to some friends, I realized that SRPs can vary a lot by library (states have different guidelines, but individual libraries also have some leeway), so I want to know what Summer Reading looks like at your library (and what you think about it)!
Who Can Participate?
Is the SRP only for kids, or can adults sign up? Do you need to have a library card to join? Do you need to pay off your fines before they let you join?
My current library has SRPs for both kids and adults, and you do not need to belong to the library to sign up. Just give them a name and some contact information (I think this might be to inform you if you win the Grand Prize raffle), and you’re good to go!
What Are the Goals?
Do you read a certain number of books? A certain number of pages? For a certain amount of time? Or do you need to do things that aren’t even reading at all, like attend a library program?
Summer Reading from my childhood just involved writing a list of the books you read and how many pages they were; prizes were set at certain page number goals, but basically you could just keep listing books for as long as you wanted. I like this system. It seems simple and straightforward to me. But now libraries seem to be getting ~creative~ with all kinds of different goals, I assume to make it “easier” to encourage people to join. At my current library, you choose if you want to read 10 books, for 10 hours, or on 10 different days. You can earn bonus entries in the Grand Prize raffle if you read more, but the official end goals are so short I heard people come in and say they were done literally two days after they signed up.
What Are the Prizes?
Do you get a sign up prize? Prizes at different steps along the way? A final end prize? What are the prizes?
When I was a kid, a free book was the “big” prize for reaching a certain goal. At my current library, you get a book just for signing up. The other prizes seem smaller, things like key chains, but you also get coupons for some free food around town, and there is a Grand Prize that will be raffled off (possibly a gift card, but this is unclear to me).
The book I got:
Has the Program Changed Over the Years?
If you’ve been doing the Summer Reading Program at the same library for several years, has it stayed the same or changed? Which version do you like best?
As I said, when I was a kid, my hometown library just had you list books and how many pages they were, but I believe they’ve experimented with different formats over the years. They seem to be currently testing out asking patrons to do things in addition to reading (like smiling at a friend or checking out a magazine–not reading it, just checking it out), which I don’t love. The point of Summer Reading is actually to help prevent “summer slide” for students, and smiling at someone doesn’t really achieve that. I also like the idea of libraries actually promoting reading.
Also, I mentioned that my current library only really asks you to read 10 books. This is a good goal for people who don’t really read a lot and will find it challenging but do-able. It’s a really low goal for people who do read a lot, or for kids reading short books like picture books. I think it would be nice if the library found a better way to include both people who read a little and people who read a lot because the people who finished the challenge in two days or so seem pretty disappointed by the whole affair.