Arizona Libraries Reimagine Summer Reading
With social distancing still the norm for many Arizona communities, libraries are stepping up with alternative methods of encouraging summer reading and learning. Even during a pandemic, libraries continue to serve their community with innovative programs. Summer reading programs are an effective and fun way to combine reading and learning activities into summer family time.
Informal and creative learning provided through summer library programs are more important than ever, they provide families the opportunity to stay engaged in learning even when schools are closed for summer. From curbside checkout, grab and go activity kits, free books, partnerships with emergency meal providers, virtual programs and events, online summer reading software to track reading, play games and earn prizes to outdoor story walks and family scavenger hunts, libraries have responded with creativity and innovation to meet the needs of their community.
Here are a few examples:
Coolidge Public Library, a member of the Pinal County Library District has offered a free Back-to-School supply program to all school-aged children during the summer since 2013. It has been funded by grants from Walmart, Dollar General, and Target. However the Friends of the Coolidge Library has covered the costs for the last few years with extra donations from area businesses and charitable organizations. Normally this program was a way to highlight library programs to families by having them stop into the library each week for their free supplies. But the library had to reimagine this program to accommodate the special COVID-19 needs.
The Friends of the Coolidge Library determined that families were going to need school supplies even more this year due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Therefore the Friends decided to expand funding for this program and asked library staff to design a way to distribute the school supplies without requiring families to visit the library every week.
The library established a no-contact curbside pickup program as well as an appointment system for library visits that limited the foot traffic in and out of the building. Then the library introduced new school supplies every two weeks instead of every week. The library also redesigned their Summer Learning Program so readers kept track of their reading for a two-week period. This allowed the library visits to coincide with the new school supply distribution schedule. Once children finished reading for two weeks they returned a reading log, picked up a new log along with plenty of enrichment activities, at least one book, and two-three unique school supplies. Although most families pick up the school supplies when they are getting a new reading log, the supply distribution program is not part of the learning program. Supplies are available to any students who request them. The Friends purchased enough supplies for approximately 200 children. Supplies are distributed until they are depleted. That means a child can sometimes still receive the previous supplies even if they don’t make it to the library during that two-week period.
Children were always required to visit the library in person to get the supplies. However, parents are allowed to pick up supplies for their kids this year. They can get them during a no-contact curbside delivery or by entering the library during a scheduled appointment. This program has been an excellent way to introduce the library to families who don’t normally use library services. Besides it helps the community. The library is so grateful for this generous contribution from the Friends.
This year's Summer Reading Program at the Copper Queen Library (CQL SRP) is a passive 8-week subscription model, using the US Postal Service to mail out packages each week. For the last four years, CQL has provided a book a week per child, sponsored by their community partner Freeport-McMoRan, and this year that has become the focal point of their program.
CQL SRP has expanded their existing programs to include the Bis-Baby SRP for ages 0-24 months, which includes board books and special activities for parents. The activities are designed to promote parent participation and dialogue, even for the older kids, and have a focus of exploring the world around us. Themes include "Imagine Your Own Story," "Imagine Your Home, "Imagine Your Canvas," (art activities), and "Imagine Another World," fostering the creation of new experiences and changing our unconscious habits, to find new wonder in both books and the current environment we are living in.
Copper Queen Library’s annual Youth Freewrite program is continuing through Zoom this summer, with writers from 8-15 years old. CQL is thrilled to have over 80 SRP registrants, with 16 brand new babies participating in the new Bis-baby program this year, a program that they will continue. It is never too early to hold a book, or hear a story. The program and activities for parents are informed by the Early Literacy Summit 2020, Alison Williams was able to attend in January. Even though they miss their patrons the Copper Queen Library staff continue to keep in touch through curbside service, virtual programs, calls and emails.
This Summer the Nogales-Santa Crus County Public Library partnered up with the school district and became a location for free lunch distribution. They were expecting this program to begin in June but due to the pandemic the program started in the beginning of April due to the schools being closed.
The Nogales-Santa Cruz County Public Library typically runs a summer reading program during the months of June and July but even with the library doors closed, the library staff still wanted to encourage reading and learning throughout the summer. The library prepared grab and go kits that each included two “Keep forever” books, for the children to enjoy and read at home. They created bags for different age groups ranging from 3-13 with summer reading activities and writing challenges. The challenges included writing prompts such as “What I loved this year”, and a “Short story about me.”
If the participants email their completed weekly challenge to the library, they can pick up a prize on from the library, when they pick up their new grab and go kit during library curbside hours. The Summer Reading Grand Finale is a Grab and Go – Pizza Party for participants that complete at least 3 of the challenges.
To help their community learn about all the reimagined library plans, the library is sharing information about their curbside services, grab and go kits and meal distribution through the local newspaper and on the community Facebook page “WE Love Nogales.” The Nogales Library has received lots of positive feedback regarding their reimagined summer reading program and should be proud to offer additional learning resources for the youth and families in the Santa Cruz County.
The Show Low Public Library kicked off their reimagined summer reading with a “drive-by” kickoff celebration. Library staff set up a tent by their drive-through book drop and handed out summer reading bags and popsicles. This was a huge success with many families driving through and saying hello to Ms. Heather!
They are holding a few in-person summer reading activities but limiting them to 8 participants. Held outside on a large covered patio, the tables are spread out for social distancing and registration is required. However, if patrons are unable to attend, they can pick up make and take kits with everything they need to make the activity at home.
Starting in July, the library will be handing out NASA @ My Library make and take activities bags. These family bags are loaded with all kinds of activities, information, online links, and more. Each month a new space related theme is introduced. July will be “Milky Way”, August will be “Stars”, and September will be “Planets”.
Half-Way through the summer reading program a virtual dance party entitled “Fablehaven Dance Party” will be held. This will be by invite only for those who have reached a certain number of points on READsquared. Those who rise to the challenge will receive a Zoom invite and can join library staff as we dance to some popular Disney songs!
The Show Low Library staff are sad that they couldn’t hold their normal summer reading program but have learned to be creative in how they are reaching out to their patrons! The library staff want to make sure that reading continues and have seen their circulation numbers holding steady! They have over 200 participants signed up for summer reading and have no reason to think that the Show Low community will not finish a Reimagined Summer Reading strong!
Vernon Public Library which is part of Apache County Library District was one of the libraries selected to receive 250 children’s books to support their summer reading program as part of the Arizona Reading Program Outreach: Special COVID-19 Opportunity.
Vernon Public Library will partner with Vernon Elementary School to distribute Summer Reading Packets along with free lunch distribution. The packets will include reading logs, stickers, activities, and books for the participants to build their own home libraries. The Vernon Elementary school bus distributes sack lunches throughout the community. Vernon Elementary School is extending their meal program to the first 4 weeks in June, offering warm meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then distributing sack lunches on the bus on Mondays and Wednesdays. Vernon Public Library also hopes to have one of their library staff ride the bus and assist in distributing Summer Reading Packets with the lunches. This will be a great opportunity to maintain in-person connections with their library patrons. The Arizona Reading Program Outreach: Special COVID-19 Opportunity objectives include increasing access to books in the homes of young children and their families/caretakers who are the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis and to encourage out-of-school time reading and learning during a time when communities have limited access to library programs and resources.
This project is supported by the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Through a hybrid summer learning program, Buckeye Public Library is blending STEAM Grab and Go kits with virtual STEAM activities to keep Buckeye’s youth learning and engaged in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Each week Buckeye Public Library shares a virtual STEAM activity via their Facebook page. They also provide STEAM Grab and Go kits for families to pick up curbside at the library prior to the virtual STEAM program. They also include easy activities that could be created with things from around the house and a downloadable link for an amazing activity book. Even though their doors are closed to the public, the library staff are working and striving to serve their community through a Summer Reimagined. For more information go to: https://www.buckeyeaz.gov/residents/library/summer-reading
The Maricopa County Reads summer reading program (http://read20az.com) is the one time of year when the public, tribal and military libraries in Maricopa County come together for their patrons. While the program has been tracking minutes, offering reading challenges and awarding prizes online for years, Maricopa County Library District also provides over 200 in-person events at the 67 participating libraries in support of their summer reading program. With in-person programming suspended, there was a scramble to still provide an aspect of summer that participants love. We also know that events in libraries are important to the livelihood of our local performers.
A quick scramble of code-writing by the Web Team and a coordination with local performers on bit rates, aspect ratios and video editing, and Voila, streaming events! (https://maricopacountyreads.org/Events/StreamingEvents) Maricopa County Reads is excited to provide over 25 unique virtual events exclusively to summer reading participants. Each week, three new diverse videos are available to view on-demand. Participants can look forward to magicians, princess story time, animal encounters, West African music, henna tutorials, a Chinese Lion Dance performance, and so much more!
This year, we are excited that a participant’s location in the valley will not limit their access to the knowledgeable, creative programs provided by library staff!
Read 20 minutes every day and track your summer reading online.
To see if your library is participating in an online summer reading program go to www.azsummerreading.org or visit your local library to learn other ways to participate in summer reading.
Readers who are unable to read standard print due to a visual or physical limitation can still participate in Summer Reading. Please contact the Arizona Talking Book Library for more information about books available in audio and Braille formats.
Why Summer Reading?
Summer reading programs are an effective, fun way to combine reading and related activities into summer family time. They also have these reading benefits for kids:
- Reading gets better when you practice it.
- Reading helps improve writing style.
- Children read more when they listen to and discuss stories, so get the entire family involved.
Many Arizona libraries support book discussion groups that celebrate literature and foster a sense of community. Some public libraries provide kits with a set of books and a discussion guide, to be used by book discussion groups.
The Department of Education, The Arizona State Library, First Things First, the nonprofit organization Read On Arizona and MetaMetrics®, joined to promote the Arizona Reading Program for parents, educators and students.
The goal of this collaboration is to reduce summer reading slide for Arizona’s students. This partnership uses the public library’s summer reading program as a springboard to involve educators, students and parents in choosing summer reading materials based on interest and Lexile measures.
The Lexile Framework for Reading provides a common, developmental scale for matching reader ability and text difficulty. Lexile measures enable educators, parents and students to select targeted materials that can improve reading skills and to monitor reading growth across the curriculum, in the library and at home.
Libraries are encouraged to collaborate with local educators by visiting schools and keeping teachers and administrators informed about library programs including summer reading.
Statewide summer reading is supported by the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.