Public libraries — encourage summer reading

Girls reading in the library during summer.

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Many public libraries offer summer reading programmes for children and teens. Summer reading provides the perfect opportunity to connect (or strengthen existing connections) between schools and the public library.

Help improve access for students

Children with greater access to books read more on their own.

Local public libraries increase the reading resources that are available to children and teens over the summer. Access to interesting reading material is essential — low-income children tend to have fewer books at home and live in neighbourhoods with fewer public libraries.

The complexity of community and family influences on children's achievement in New Zealand — a best-evidence synthesis, commissioned by the New Zealand Ministry of Education — cites libraries as a key institution for helping to improve academic outcomes for low-income children:

When parents and children can access local community institutions (e.g. libraries, medical facilities) and social agencies (e.g. to receive income entitlements) children’s achievement can be enhanced beyond the level which schools alone can accomplish.
— Fred Biddulph, Jeanne Biddulph and Chris Biddulph, The complexity of community and family influences on children's achievement in New Zealand

Connect with local schools

Even if your library doesn't have a summer reading programme, it’s important and valuable to connect students and their families with the services you offer.

Visit local schools

Arrange for the children's librarian to visit local schools to talk about your summer reading programme/challenge, or your online services such as eBooks and summer reading lists.

Ask if you can attend:

  • whole-school and departmental meetings (e.g. English department) so you can meet staff and promote your programme, services, website and collection
  • school assemblies to promote holiday activities and programmes
  • school library events, such as book weeks.

Connect with school libraries and their student librarians:

  • Visit the school library regularly during lunchtime to make yourself and service known to the school’s library users.
  • Plan this to do this before the school holidays to support the students if the school library will be closed.

Other things you could do include:

  • Encourage students to give input into collection development.
  • Provide schools with feedback about students attending holiday programmes.

Tauranga City Library’s summer reading programme is targeted to children recommended by reading recovery teachers. In two low-decile areas, the mobile library brings the programme to the children at the school gate, helps them with their reading choices and distributes any prizes. The programme has made a difference to these children’s reading skills.
— "Public libraries of New Zealand: A strategic framework 2006 to 2016"

Encourage schools and students to visit your library

Ideas include:

  • Invite schools to come to the library for activities like class visits, author events book launches and book groups.
  • Invite an avid school reader to create a display of books they like and why, perhaps a 'student choice' bookmark.
  • Provide public library promotional/membership material for schools to send home to parents.

Schools — how to support students' summer reading

Find out more

Directory of New Zealand libraries — contact details and locations for New Zealand public libraries. It incorporates services to support library business, such as interloan services.

Map of public library summer reading programmes in New Zealand

Children, libraries, and reading — PEW Internet's report looks at the importance parents in the US place on reading, library use and how this affects their enthusiasm for libraries.