Examples of Library Summer Learning Programs and Supporting Resources

ULC and NSLA identified three primary models that illustrate how libraries are expanding traditional summer reading programs to include diverse summer learning activities. These models are titled “Summer Reading PLUS,” “Skill-based Drop-in Learning Activities” and “Focused Enrollment Programs.”

Summer Reading PLUS adds hands-on and inquiry-based learning activities to incentive based summer reading programs so that summer programs are about doing, as well as reading.

Examples of Summer Reading PLUS and Related Tools

Skill-based Drop-in Learning Activities includes flexible, active learning that is designed for participants to gain academic and 21st century skills such as experimentation and problem-solving or collaboration and teamwork, while accommodating families’ needs for flexible summer opportunities that do not require enrollment in a five- or six-week camp.

Examples of Skill-based Drop-in Programs and Related Tools

  • Chicago Public Library’s Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge teams up with Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry to offer an array of STEM focused activities.
  • Broward County Library’s Summer Learning Program sets summer learning goals for four age groups — preschool, children, teens and adults.
    • Using a program planning template, guides program leaders in designing activities that have a theme and specific learning goals that tie to the library’s broad strategic goals.
  • Fort Worth Library’s Worth Reading is a community-wide program aimed at getting children, youth and adults engaged in reading and learning all year long.
    • During the summer, the program uses activity templates that are aligned with the state curriculum standards in English language arts, reading and science to plan activities.
  • Richmond Public Library takes its skill-based programming out into the community by partnering with summer daycare programs targeting kindergarten through third grade children. Librarians travel to daycare centers to lead focused storytimes designed to develop the seven essential life skills articulated in Mind in the Making.
    • This program outline provides an overview for both library staff and daycare teachers.
    • The library also creates a series of booklists that include books aligned with each of the seven essential skills.
    • A detailed guide for library staff helps to facilitate their leadership of the skill-based storytime at the daycare centers.

Focused Enrollment Programs are usually offered on a week-by-week basis, address specific learning outcomes and are targeted to youth and families who do not have access to other summer learning opportunities.

Examples of Focused Enrollment Programs and Related Tools

  • New Haven Free Public Library’s READy for the Grade is a seven week summer literacy program for rising first- through third-graders who are reading below grade level and come from low-income families, funded by the New Alliance Foundation.  
    • This READy for the Grade program flyer is shared with parents to provide information on what the program involves, incentives for participation and how to register.
    • A simple enrollment form completed by a parent provides background information, such as the child’s reading level and enrolls them in the program.
    • Families join the program for a weekly dinner and complete take home reading exercises focused on the bilingual book of the week.
  • District of Columbia Public Library’s Science in the Summer is a free, enrollment-based summer learning program that is part of a regional initiative developed by GSK Pharmaceuticals and provided in partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • New York Public Library’s Literacy Leaders program trains high school students in a credit-earning course to be literacy tutors and then employs them to work with struggling first- and second-grade readers at four library branches. First- and second-grade students enroll the summer learning program and gain literacy skills via a variety of materials and approaches used by the Literacy Leaders to improve grade-level reading proficiency. New York Public Library won ULC’s 2015 Top Innovator award in the category of Economic and Workforce Developmentfor this pioneering “double bottom-line” program.
    • A program logic model shows the components and benefits of the program for both the elementary school and the high school students.
    • Teens complete an application form that indicates their interest in literacy and tutoring and in earning work experience.
    • To facilitate collaboration with local high schools, the library uses a High School Partner Site Agreement to clarify roles of each partner.
    • Lesson plans guide teens in their leadership of activities designed to get first- and second-graders back on track with reading.
  • Free Library of Philadelphia’s Back to School Jumpstart Camp targets rising kindergarteners through third-graders in an early literacy program that sets specific goals in six areas: reading level, behavior, attitudes toward learning, attendance, “deep” practice with reading and writing practice.
    • A performance indicator sheet describes the specific goals for children in the program and helps team members track progress.
    • A project calendar describes the daily lesson plan, including activities focused on reading, writing and creating, among others.