Summer reading programs began in the 1890s, the American Library Association tells us, as a way to encourage school children, particularly those in urban areas and not needed for farm work, to read during their summer vacation, use the library and develop the habit of reading.
Over the years it continued as a way to help stop the “summer slide” and to keep kids engaged throughout the summer. This year’s theme is Oceans of Possibilities, and rather than being just for kids, it’s open to all ages. We are in Week 4 of this year’s program and thought we’d share a few of our own Summer Reading stories.
Miss Tammy, Youth Services Librarian: Summer reading is when we get to shine and get families into the library to show them how fun it is here. Sometimes this is the only time I get to see some families and kids, whether because parents work or because the kids are in the many camp groups that come to the library during the summer. While it is a crazy time of the year, it is worth all the work to see how happy it makes the kids. I especially love that it gives us an excuse 😉 to get dressed up in silly outfits and go all out decorating the youth services room.
I joined Cortland Free Library right at the beginning of the 2015 Summer Reading Program “Every Hero Has a Story.” I remember the fun of dressing up as a super librarian and all the giggles it brought to kids and adults. One of my favorite memories from that summer was a toddler that also dressed up as a superhero.
Lorri, Bookkeeper: It was the summer of 1975. I was a 15 year old between my freshman and sophomore year, volunteering at Lamont Memorial Library in McGraw. I shared my time between weeding the flower beds and helping with the Summer Reading Program. I don’t remember a lot of details, but I do remember the sleepy smiles in the morning and the excitement of the little ones as they filled out their logs and ogled their prizes! We made daily treks back and forth to the park for water games and fun, and I specifically remember scatters of kids in every nook and cranny cuddled up reading on the rainy days.
I’ve remembered that fondly many times over the years. Just another chapter in my own book of library memories!
Tim, Circulation Desk Assistant: My summer reading anecdote/suggestion is that I like to pick books to take on vacation with me that are equal parts fiction/equal parts non-fiction. I tend to read the former in the evening to “decompress” from the daily excursions, and I save the latter for earlier in the day/vacation/etc. I like to challenge myself with truth, yet I still have time to “escape” in fiction.
Jen, Library Director: The first actual library Summer Reading program I remember was in my hometown library in Rush, NY where I volunteered in what must have been the early 90s, listening to kids give summaries of the books they’d read so they could get their prizes. Since then, the best part of summer reading for me has always been taking a stack of books and a notebook outside and reading outdoors. Being beneath a tree, on grass, near water, etc., enhances the entire experience for me, including reflection on the reading. And here at the library, the energy and excitement in Youth Services is through the roof in summer, thanks in large part to Miss Tammy who exudes enthusiasm!
Kristen, Circulation Desk Assistant: This is my first summer participating in the Summer Reading Program as a staff member here at the Cortland Free Library! I am so excited to be a part of all of the amazing things that we do here. I have loved getting to know all of the fantastic readers that we have here in Cortland. Whether it’s those that come to the circulation desk with a tall pile of books or our young readers that are ecstatic because they have just won a free book, all of the excitement to read here makes me smile.
My favorite thing to do in the summer when I was younger was to read whatever I wanted. There were no teachers telling me that I had to read this or I had to read that; everything I read was for pure enjoyment. I would start each summer with a list of what I wanted to get through and I would spend all of my free time reading. Whether I was out in the sunshine or inside where I could keep cool, my nose was always in a book. As I got older, my summers have become full other things and people that need my time. Summer reading isn’t as it used to be. My mother told me that at some point, it will be my turn to enjoy my summers and my reading like I used to. I’m looking forward to days full of sunshine, iced tea, and books… lots and lots of books.
Do you have a Summer Reading story to share? Tell us in the comments!