Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Reading Program -Not Just for Kids!

Me! The girl in the pig tails receiving her cherished award, 1975.

Many of us remember eagerly joining the summer reading program at our local library when we were kids. Each summer vacation during elementary school, my cousin and I would sign up at the North Babylon Public Library, New York and get a bookmark and a themed page – a jungle or a castle, for example – with a reading log on the back. Each time we’d read a book, the librarian would give us a lion or giraffe sticker, or a princess, knight, or dragon to decorate our page.

Of course, the more books you read, the closer you came to finishing the colorful picture.

At the end of the program, the library hosted a ceremony for the kids and parents, and we’d go up on stage, shake hands with the librarian, and receive a ribbon and a certificate of completion. A photographer took our photos, as if we were Hollywood stars. And, you know? We were stars! We read all those wonderful stories and learned about different people, places, and things! What a great achievement it was to read all those books!

My cousin Neil, front row, center.

The joy of immersing myself in a good book didn’t fade when I reached adulthood – and not just because I’m a librarian. Many of us read for pleasure or edification on a regular basis, as we can see by the many patrons who come to our libraries each day to check out books or to attend our book discussions. It is because of our patrons, who asked for more book-related events during the summertime, that we started a summer reading program for adults.

Since summer is a busy time, instead of offering a formal book discussion series – which requires a lot of time and commitment – we decided to provide a summer reading program modeled after the children’s perennial favorite at my library, the Palm Beach County Library System. We learned that other libraries around the country were having success in engaging adults in this self-paced reading activity. By using the same theme as the state’s Florida Library Youth Program, we teamed up with our Youth Services Department to produce programs that appealed to all ages of the community. Now adults, as well as children and teens, can participate in a fun reading program like the one my library sponsors. Please visit your local library for more information or see the full story at