Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Book Blab Episode 14: Summer Reading Programs

Hey guys, time for another episode of The Book Blab! This month we're discussing summer reading programs, the pros and cons of reading incentive programs in general, and the fabulous summer reading program Amy puts on for her own kids. This was a pretty fun discussion, and we even had a couple of special guests (one invited, the other not, but both still adorable!).

We ask a couple of questions in the videos that we'd love your feedback on, so please comment with your opinions. What would your ideal summer reading program look like? What kinds of incentives motivate you? And finally, are there any topic ideas you have for me and Amy that you think would be fun for us to talk about in future episodes? If so, we'd love to know!

Show notes below. As always, thanks for watching!

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 has 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:

The Secret Garden by Francis Hodges Burnett (Amy's review)
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (Amy's review)


  1. 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: http://www.provolibrary.com/summer-reading
    Here's the link to see the challenges: http://srp.provolibrary.com/

    1. Thanks for sharing Ann-Marie. I guess you would have a lot of experience with these things as a librarian. This program looks awesome! I love how the children's program has a competition factor involved, so there is some motivation to read beyond the goals they set. I like the idea of having those challenges on top of the reading goals. That's a great program!

  2. Somehow I missed this post! It is so interesting to me how different libraries handle summer reading programs. Are you part of the Mid-Continent library system now? Because growing up, they had the best program. I'm sure it's changed, but we had to read either 20 picture books or 10 chapter books to earn a free book and a sticker on our "shape" in the library. The number of lists you could complete in a summer was endless.
    I currently have my kids signed up with two different library SRPs and both require 20 minutes chunks of reading time. One library has 3 categories of increasing increments of 20 min (10, 15, 20), and the other library has 5 categories, for a total of about 15 hours to completion. Each category increases the prize: e.g. coupon for McDonalds ice cream, prize from the treasure box, free book, coupon for the ice arena, end of summer library party, or (my favorite) free ticket to the zoo! Any additional reading time above the prizes gets your name in a raffle for some big prizes.
    Overall I like this system, but I would prefer to log books read rather than time read. Natalie is very diligent in keeping track of any few minutes she reads and keeps track on her digital watch. She is well over 100 hours this summer. For Kate and Andrew, they read, but they are not good at keeping track of how long, so we just have to guess. For Tanner, there is no way he is getting all of the prizes, because he will not sit still for 20 minutes to read, so sometimes I just mark off any reading session with him. We've also been frustrated sometimes with the book selection for the free book, but for me, a free ticket to the zoo for all the kids is worth it! And they get satisfaction from filling in the chart and turning it in for prizes.

  3. Those are some fun prizes! I can see how it's harder to log time than number of books, although I can also see how (from the library's point of view) logging time is a little more fair considering some books are much longer than others. Although, logging pages would solve both those problems!

    Anyway, we are not part of Mid-Continent, Johnson County has it's own library system. We only got signed up with cards last week, so we totally missed the summer reading program this year, but from what I've seen of the rest of the library system, I'm betting they put on a decent one. We'll find out next summer!