The Book Blab Episode 14: Summer Reading Programs Plus Two Books With Settings We'd Love to Visit

Jul 18, 2017

With summer in full swing, I'm sure many of you are participating in summer reading programs. Last summer, I became so disenchanted with my library's summer "reading" program that I created my own for my kids. It was a huge success, and we're doing it again this year. So on this episode of The Book Blab, Suzanne and I discussed how to start your own summer reading program and why external motivation can be a good thing (and I even convinced Maxwell to come chat with us for a bit).

Before we jump into the episode, I'd like you to think about three questions, and answer them in the comments if you feel so inclined:

1. What does your ideal summer reading program look like?
2. What incentives would motivate YOU?
3. What topic would you like Suzanne and I to discuss on a future episode?

And now, on with the show!

0:20 - Suzanne's busy summer
0:57 - Today's topic: summer reading programs
1:42 - Suzanne's experience with summer reading programs
4:10 - Amy's experience with summer reading programs
7:15 - The summer reading program Amy created for her kids
9:47 - Special guest appearance by Amy's 7-year-old, Max
  • 10:54 - Max's favorite prize
  • 11:53 - Max's thoughts on being rewarded for reading
  • 12:48 - The number of hours Max reads every day
  • 13:53 - Becoming an adventurous reader
  • 14:33 - One of Max's favorite books this summer
15:52 - The good and bad of incentive programs and external motivation
21:30 - What would a summer reading program look like for adults?
24:40 - Tips for tracking time
25:40 - Two books with settings we'd love to visit
  • 26:15 - Suzanne's recommendation
  • 28:24 - Amy's recommendation
30:25 - Conclusion

Books and links mentioned in the show:

Sunlit Pages: Raising Readers: Summer Reading Program
Sunlit Pages: A Summer Reading Program You Can Do at Home
The Secret Garden by Francis Hodges Burnett (Amy's review)
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (Amy's review)


  1. (Before watching)
    1. What does your ideal summer reading program look like?
    For kids: Lets you chart time or books read. Gives a map you can update somehow, and has goals along the way. Has optional side "quests" (talk to a librarian, listen to music from library, whatever else library wants kids to know they've got)
    For adults: Easy to use, can link families, has options that show off what the library has to offer (lists, recommendations, databases, etc)
    2. What incentives would motivate YOU?
    OK, I'm super easy and get excited for BADGES for achieving goals. Virtual badges are fine.
    3. What topic would you like Suzanne and I to discuss on a future episode?
    So far you guys are doing great and keeping me entertained, so I'm hesitant to change things. I like when you talk about reading with your families, or for specific reasons (travel). Maybe book clubs that you have liked? What you think about awards in general (did you do that already)? Book prejudices that you have or used to have but overcome (I never read romance until about 15 years ago) Your stance on the "school books are all about dogs (or moms) dying" issue? What do you do if a friend recommends a terrible book?

    I don't think summer reading programs should bribe you to read more. They should celebrate the reading you are doing. Notice how I'm fairly oblivious to physical incentives -- our libraries actually used to have very nice prizes for completing the summer reading, based on the theme (binoculars, etc). Now the main thing is you are entered in a drawing for a big prize -- tablet or something.

    Anyway, we were lucky if we remembered to turn in the forms. I remember the pizza parties, where we'd go out and all four would get their free pizza. But mostly we remember coloring in the big snake or whatever.

    OH -- I almost forgot, I WON last years Adult Summer Reading. They lost my info or something so I didn't find out until December, when they called and sent me in to get my $250 gift card, which I insisted on only spending on books. I think it was random, although I did complete every single possible badge, from reading time to reading goal to accessing odd parts of the library system.

    1. Wow thanks for the very thorough answers! You're the best. I especially love all your suggestions for future topics. Look for us to discuss some of them in the future!

  2. I posted this on Suzanne's blog, but I thought you might be interested too.

    I watched the Blab the other night, but didn't have a chance to comment until today.
    I thought it was interesting to hear your comments on Summer Reading Programs (or SRP as we call it in the library business). As a librarian I guess I have a bit of a different view on the program.
    At my library SRP is for all ages, infant through adult. I don't know as much about the children's program, but essentially the kids (or their parent if the child can't read on their own) set a reading goal of the number of minutes they will read each day. They have a halfway prize (when they are halfway to meeting their goal) and a final prize. Teens and Adults have to read at least 3 books (100 pages or more) to earn their completion prize.
    We also have challenges that encourage the patrons to get to know library resources. Some of the challenges are also kindness related to go along with the Build a Better World theme this year.
    Here's the link to our SRP info and rules:
    Here's the link to see the challenges:

    1. I really appreciated hearing your perspective. It's so interesting to think that all along I've been thinking a summer reading program should be encouraging more reading while all the librarians are thinking it's purpose is to help people come to and learn how to use the library. But that makes sense!


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