Annotated Summer Reading Program Research on Participation, Impact

As I confessed in my author blurb on the Oregon Library Association Children’s Services Division blog, I wrote four term papers on summer reading programs (SRP). During that time I amassed a hoard of research papers on summer reading! My dream is to help produce more, since 95% of public libraries offer summer reading, but there’s only been one true experimental study to my knowledge.

Here are the pieces I’ve found most useful in my literature reviews and papers on  participation in, and the effectiveness of, summer reading programs.

History of SRP

Stephanie Bertin. A History of Youth Summer Reading Programs in Public Libraries. A Master’s Paper for the M.S. in L.S degree. May, 2004. 71 pages. Advisor: Brian Sturm.

This master’s thesis reviews articles in Library Journal and School Library Journal about summer reading. An early version of summer reading appeared in the 1890s, and programs quickly became popular, over time more closely resembling today’s with reading logs, programs for kids and teens, themes, and cooperatives. The review also highlights the beginnings of what are ongoing discussions in youth services: the roll of incentives (1944) and avoiding summer learning loss (1946).

Impact of SRP

Dynia, J. M., Piasta, S. B., Justice, L. M., & Columbus Metropolitan Library. (2015). Impact of library-based summer reading clubs on primary-grade children’s literacy activities and achievement. Library Quarterly, 85(4), 386–405.

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Paper stars make for a relaxed family craft

Summer Reading 2019 is almost over, and before it ends, I want to share my favorite program of the summer: Paper Star Decor. The program drew a lively mix of 31 kids, young teens, and their family members.

Last winter I saw a video of how to make paper stars out of paper bags. I knew the craft could anchor a summer program, especially since we had the luck of celebrating “A Universe of Stories” for summer reading 2019. It fit right in with our space theme.

Craft Overview

I offered three crafts to keep the program interesting for the whole family. Giant paper bag stars were the statement craft. I also included origami stars, which are much quicker, and precut stars for younger kids to decorate.

Tissue paper star, three origami stars, and one large paper bag star.

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My First Year after Library School

A version of this article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of Voice of Youth Advocates.

I stumbled across a wax-sealed letter while cleaning up my childhood bedroom. It was addressed “To: Adult Lindsay From: 9 year old Lindsay.”

I had no idea what it contained, but I had just graduated with a Master’s degree and moved back to Oregon to start my first librarian job, so I figured I was adult enough to open it. Inside I had written to myself, “I at this age am hoping to do something with a library when I grow up. But you of course know if I have done so because you are a grownup me…”

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Favorite Spanish Picture Books and Stories for Storytime

I’m entering my third year of being a librarian! That means I’ve got about two years of Spanish story time under my belt, and it really does get easier. Today went well because I remembered to hide the spaceship before story time (pro tip: spaceship tents are more interesting than anything you can plan), used a winning combo of story time songs, and selected fun and engaging stories.

And now, a list of all the stories that have worked best in my bilingual Spanish story times for ages 0-6 is available as a Google sheet: Favorite Spanish Picture Books and Stories.

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Weeding and buying nonfiction with circulation statistics

I’ve learned most of what I know about collection development from hands on observation of selectors at work.

From those observations, I’ve learned collection development styles can vary a lot. As one data-driven selector told me, “Some people have a gut. I don’t.” Fortunately, circulation data and spreadsheets have allowed me to roughly approximate a gut.

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Spanish story time: Lizards and Supercharged Storytimes

Not every book I choose for story time is a winner. Sometimes they’re too long. Sometimes they don’t have enough excitement. My story time crew tends to be little – ones and twos – so toddler friendly picks are a must. (I save my favorite preschool titles for outreach!) Every book that meets the bar for repeating gets marked with a ‘y’ in my handy dandy Spanish story time planning spreadsheet.

Two recent ganadores just happen to make the perfect “lizard” story time! I’ll run with a theme when I can, but it’s more important to me that the books are great choices. (Jbrary has a great post on how to develop story time flow over story time themes. )

Photo of two book covers
These two lizard books have made it on the keep list for Spanish story time

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Cinco ranas verdes: an action song for Spanish story time

Lyrics to kid song cinco ranas verdes

Frogs! Frogs everywhere! This action song is adapted from the children’s song “Un ratoncito sale de la cueva.”

It goes like this:

Cinco ranas verdes, (Enseña cinco dedos/Show five fingers)

Salen de los bolsillos, (Pasa un brazo bajo otro/Pass an arm under another)

Saltan por todas partes, (Da una palmadita en las piernas/Slap your legs)

Y juegan a la rueda. (Haz círculos con los brazos/Circle your arms)

And it continues with cuatro, tres, dos ranas until there is only una rana left:

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Spanish story time: an Eric Carle classic & print awareness

I’ve grown emboldened this fall to place more emphasis on Spanish only stories during bilingual story time.

Picking a few key words and ideas to translate into Spanish has worked well at keeping monolingual English speakers engaged.


With this week’s pick, Papá, por favor, bájame la luna by Eric Carle, I read the Spanish text and emphasized the ECRR2 dimension of print awareness/conventions.

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Crafting stories from song for Spanish story time

Last fall, I launched a bilingual Spanish story time at my library called ¡Cantos! ¡Cuentos! ¡Juegos! I’ve discovered stories, songs, and story time structures that work (and that don’t).

One discovery I made last fall was the CD Cantar y Jugar. It’s from 2002, by Disney (sounding great, right?), but it has some surprisingly listenable versions of Latin American children’s songs.

Photo of album art for Disney presenta Cantar y Jugar showing Mickey Mouse with maracas
A shiny new copy I ordered for myself. The library copy looks more its age.

After almost a year of listening to the CD while setting up and playing after story time, the song “Que llueva” convinced me it could be something more.

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