Summer Reading Programs

summerWhen I was a kid the highlight of my summer was always the summer reading program.  Yes, my family went on vacation.  Often to really cool places.  Yes, I did things with friends.  But around April I anxiously awaited the unveiling of that years theme.

Would we be doing a Reading Roundup (cowboy theme)?  A Calling All Knights (Medieval theme)?  What would be the prizes?  I was never concerned about the number of books required.  Whether it was the 20 needed to get the elementary school top prize or the 40 needed for the junior high prize, I knew I could breeze through them.  Entire afternoons and evenings were passed in the happy daze of reading everything from Alcott’s Eight Cousins to The Secret Sign by Gladys Malvern or Knight’s Fee by Rosemary Sutcliffe.  If I miss anything about not having three months off every year it is this – the pleasure to simply spend eight hours a day indulging in my favorite past time.

Some of my favorite books were found through my diligent participation in this program.  When I was younger, there were the Billy and Blaze books by C.W. Anderson and the Raggedy Ann and Andy books written by Johnny Gruelle.   The Black Stallion and Island Stallion books by Walter Farley.  All the Dana Girls and Nancy Drew Mysteries.  And Journey for a Princess by the wonderful Margaret Leighton.

That is why when we did the Reading Challenge on the AAR message boards I was so excited.  At last a taste of the bygone era of the summer reading program!  While it was far more modest (9 in 09), it was exactly what I could manage.  And I loved the challenge of reading books outside my normal comfort zone.  Not to add that it had the bonus of introducing me to a genre of books (Inspirationals) which I had snubbed for many, many a year.  I joined the 10 in 10 Reading Challenge this year and whipped through it so great was my glee at having a reading program available to me once more.  If you haven’t tried it, I really urge you to do so.  Like me, you may just discover a whole new reading experience waiting for you.

Then this year my library sent me absolutely over the moon by doing an adult summer reading program!   “Water Your Mind” is the theme, appropriate since I live in an area of avid lawn drenchers.  I am pretty sure some retiree will kick my butt and get the top prize.  I know of a local lady who reads ten books a week.  Ten!  I won’t have that kind of time if I break a leg (I toyed with the idea but really, that’s a bit too obsessive even for me, but it will be fun to fill the slips out and be eligible for the weekly drawing just the same.  And who knows, if I work hard maybe I’ll be eligible for one of the t-shirts!

So what about the rest of you?  Did you enjoy doing the summer reading programs when you were a kid? What did you like most about it?  Do you have any special book memories from that era?   Are your libraries doing the adult summer program?  Or are you doing the challenge here at AAR?  Or, on the other side of the fence, do programs and challenges cramp your style?

- Maggie Boyd

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16 Responses to Summer Reading Programs

  1. Ellen AAR says:

    I’ve always been an individualist and never liked to be held to a theme, so I never did a summer reading program. The only one I did was a themeless adult program last year at the local library and I won a tote bag. I didn’t get the Big Prize though – I never do.

  2. Lea AAR says:

    I recall summer reading programs as a child. What wonderful memories that phrase inspires. My sisters and I would walk to the library, spend time in the coolness of the library as we gathered our books and read a while before going home, and then excitement of returning home to find a private corner or tree to climb for reading.

    A few months ago, I started a listening challenge on our Speaking of Audiobooks column. The challenge was to listen to six romance audiobooks in categories I tend to avoid. I’ve listened to three – loved all – and those three inspired the purchase of seven more. I have the remainder of 2010 to listen to the remaining three. I’ll do this again next year for the column – this time formally. It has been quite a fun experiment.

  3. We didn’t have summer reading programs. At least, not that I’ve ever heard of. There is now what’s called the Premier’s Reading Challenge – the Premier is like our State Governor. It’s not confined to the summer, though and the kids only have to read 12 books, 8 of which have to be on the list for their age group, or a higher age group if they are advanced readers, the others are free choice. The lists are very extensive, so my two have never had any trouble reaching the quota, in fact they read far more than that. It’s really aimed at kids who read very little I think. Each year you complete it you go up a level from Bronze to Silver, to Gold. Then I think you go to Champion Status. Not too sure on that – the boys reach that level next year.
    Your summer reading programs sound great – I wish we’d had them. I spent a huge portion of every summer holiday as a kid reading. I still use the boys’ summer break as a reading binge.

  4. I was in a reading group over the summer, we’d get some neat prizes, like a book or a T-shire depending on how many books you read.I loved to read so I read alot of books, and i still read alot, maybe 5 a week, thats my favorite past time. I’ve joined the AAR, but I forget to go there and write my books down. Our library doesn’t have a reading group for adults just for school age kids. Anyways, I’m always reading, I love romance, Special-Op’s love and family.

  5. Goosie says:

    This isn’t a summer reading program, per se but I LOVED Book-It. It combined two of my favorite things: reading and pizza. It was fantastic. I also get sad when I see bookstores (i.e Borders) that have programs for kids saying that if you buy/read 10 books you can get one free. I totally want that!

  6. Katie Mack says:

    If my library had a summer reading program when I was a kid, I wasn’t aware of it. But I do have very fond memories of summer reading. Just being able to read however much I wanted for 3 months was sheer bliss. Ah, the good old days.

  7. Elizabeth L. says:

    I loved the summer reading program when I was a kid! I always won a prize because I read so many books. :) My local public library has an adult summer reading program, but I’m not joining it. Instead I’ve issued myself a challenge to read all the AAR Top 100 romances this summer (and maybe into the fall…it’s a lot of books!). I’ve read 42 so far (combined with those I had read before) and I’m having a blast!

    I think I’m having more fun with this than I did as a kid!

    PS: If you are interested, I’m writing about it once a week or so in my blog…just a little bit of shameless self-promoting :)

  8. Julie says:

    I participated in summer reading programs when I was a kid, but I definitely read more now than I did back then! My library is putting on an adult program called “Water Your Mind”… I wonder what the chances are that it’s the same library as Maggie’s!

    • maggie b. says:

      Julie: I participated in summer reading programs when I was a kid, but I definitely read more now than I did back then! My library is putting on an adult program called “Water Your Mind”… I wonder what the chances are that it’s the same library as Maggie’s!

      I think “Water Your Mind” is some kind of national initiative — when I just plugged it in I got hits on several different communities using it.
      It is definitely very popular in the state of Wisconsin, where I am. ;-)
      So if you live here too could be we are in the same contest!


  9. Stephanie says:

    Having lived in different areas of the country the public library has always played a large role in our families “getting to know” the new community. Summer reading programs are different from town to town but can bring together dissimilar people and encourage the young to read. Few communities can afford the laptop contest prize at the end but most are enthusiastically supported by librarians. I have a personal reading process during which Mystery’s play a prominent roll during the summer and I am aided and abetted by a very knowledgeable librarian reads Mysteries exclusively and who tempts me with new books and authors all summer. Isn’t it funny that I also am part of the 2010 summer “Water your Mind”. Happy reading!!!

  10. Pat Freeze says:

    We live in a somewhat rural county with two public libraries. Every summer hundreds of children participate in the summer reading program with prizes provided by dozens of local businesses and individuals. Each week there is a special program such as a magician, skits, puppet shows, crafts,etc. The last day of the program every child who has read even one book gets to attend a pizza party. In the fall there is a reading program for adults, also with prizes. Why should the kids have all the fun?!?

  11. You know, if someone would like to provide me with details of some of these reading programs, I could approach my local library and suggest we try something like this. We only have a six week summer break, but I’m sure the schools would get behind promoting it. Anyone who can pass me some information can do so via my website.

  12. Nathalie T says:

    My local library have a reading program for children. If they read X number of books they get one for free.

  13. Cindy says:

    Don’t remember a summer reading program, but what I do remember about summers at the library was that I carefully selected the max I could check out (10 or 12?) then calculated how many pages had per day, then rationed myself so I didn’t run out before the next library trip! We lived on a ranch and mom would take us to town once a week or so. Many libraries are having to cut staff, hours, and purchases right now and it makes me sad, sad, sad.

  14. Katherine says:

    Summer reading programs are great to get rid of the break you’ve given to he habit. I really look forward to it.

    On a separate note, I read on BooksOnBoard that Lauren Dane is going to be chatting on their Facebook wall live on Friday! That is awesome! For those interested in getting details –

  15. Rosemary Sutcliff (without an E) would love it that you passed summer immersed in books including her Knight’s Fee….but she might also have liked you to spell her name without that E (a much lesser matter however!)

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