Summer Reading: What's Your Library Got to Do With It?

As a child, I couldn't wait for the Summer Reading Program to begin at the Norwalk Library. I was a voracious reader, and I unfurled my competitive flag with a crisp snap. Whatever came my way, I was going to win.

And Reader, that I did. I always read the most, answered every weekly quiz correctly, and practically camped out in the Children's Section. The carpeted circle ringed with full bookshelves was my oasis. 

My Librarians loved me, but they gently reigned me in. They explained why they left my name off the quiz winner list: others loved to see their names as much as I did. They redirected my energy by seeking my input on book displays, and I made a few of my own, propping up books or leaving them in the reading area. They found me new books to devour, escorting me from time to time over to the Adult Section.

I finally realized it was time to grow beyond the Children's Section — which meant No More Summer Reading Program. 

Until I realized I could make one myself as an adult. 

So I did.

For a few years, From One Book Lover provided an Adult Summer Reading Program from Memorial Day to the autumnal equinox. I published what others were reading, listed my own Summer Reading Books, critiqued my reads, and bought a book for whoever read the most. It was a blast. Much like my experience in the Children's Section, my participants were frequent fliers on my blog — I got them, and they got me.

Then the world changed, and between the pandemic and Life, I got a little lost. The program and my passion took a back seat to Other Things. I still read, but my program took a hiatus.

Then, My Library did something spectacular: they expanded the Summer Reading Program to include Adult Readers. 

I signed up right away and learned about Beanstack, which we use to list what we read and participate in activities. It's easy once you get the hang of it. (Full disclosure: Beanstack ate my review of D: A Tale of Two Worlds — twice! — so I proceed with caution on that front.) I racked up buttons and titles, buoyed by my community. In the end, we met in person to talk about books, hold a raffle, and eat cake. My Inner Child was delighted, and my Adult Self was home.

My Library didn't stop there: they added a winter reading program. (I aced that, too.) (Hey, I told you I was competitive.) The virtual program launches were heartwarming and exciting: I saw other readers and recognized a few names. I kept Overdrive and Libby hopping. I combed the shelves virtually and in person for new-to-me reads. I engaged fellow readers in and out of the program. And I was again able to see My Librarians.

I finished this year's program pretty quickly and received my goodies. (Thank you, program sponsors!) I will be at the program wrap-up party at My Library next month, and not just for the cake (though let's be honest, it's a worthy draw). I hope to see some familiar faces and get a few more book recommendations. 

It's nice to have a community again and to be back in My Library. The post-pandemic hours are more limited, so I don't haunt My Library as much as I'd like, but I am getting back into my Library Groove, and it makes me happy.

If Your Library doesn't have a summer reading program, reach out to Your Librarians. If funding is an issue, engage your local government about their budget so they know you want them to prioritize Your Library. 

If that doesn't work, start your own program with your besties and new friends. It doesn't have to be big, just engaging. In today's world, your community has no boundaries. Reach out to me and we'll talk books. You are not alone.