Summer programs kept things busy

Column by Kari May


Time sure does fly! Can you believe we're already well into the new school year?

For schools, summer is a slow time — the students are out of school, and the teachers and staff have a couple months to relax and rejuvenate for the upcoming school year. And public libraries gear up for their busy season. We provide summer reading activities to help students retain and improve their reading skills, and to provide incentives for adults to read along with their kids.

Summer reading programs are a coordinated effort, not just with library staff, but also with librarians across the state and in fact across more than half of the United States. We work together to develop a common theme and all of the promotional materials that go with that summer's theme.

Planning begins in October for the following summer's activities. This year's theme was “Dig Into Reading” for preschool through the primary grades; “Beneath the Surface” for teens; and “Groundbreaking Reads” for adults.

As I started writing this column, I asked myself why we use a theme for our summer reading program. A theme provides a framework for planning our programs and special activities in the summer. We had weekly activities created by our staff that were related to things underground, from digging for buried treasure to exploring fossils with archaeologists. Sharing a theme with other libraries also provided us with a lot of resources for promotional materials, graphic artwork, and prizes to give away. In fact, my nephew and niece in New Hampshire won the same T-shirt that I did.

This year, 750 people signed up to participate in our summer reading programs, and almost 40 percent completed their program! We are so pleased to encourage so many people in Elbert County to read. This year was the second year that we had special program for pre-readers, encouraging parents to engage in literacy-building skills with their young children to help prepare them for school. We encourage those families to continue reading with our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.

Adults were encouraged to do a little homework this summer — to write a short review of two of the books they read. We posted those reviews in our online catalog — maybe they will help you decide which book to read next.

Next year's theme incorporates science and reading — from “Fizz, Boom, Read” for children; to “Spark a Reaction” in the teens; and asking adults to explore “Literary Elements.” We'll be cooking up ideas to ignite a summer of fun.

It is with some relief to me that I hear the school bells ringing again — maybe, just maybe, it means that things will slow down just a bit here at the library.

Kari May lives in Elizabeth and is the director of the Elbert County Library District. She can be contacted through the library at Visit the library at


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