Encouraging Teens to Read & Learn this Summer!

How do we as librarians encourage and inspire teenager so read and learn over the summer?

Last year we started a new summer reading "program" (you can read about it here). It was not mandatory, there was no set list of books, no long written assignment. It was intended to make reading just plain easy and fun. Students were asked to read and log their books on a Google Form. Winners were chosen at random and awarded prizes - season passes to home sporting events, a voucher for the following year's yearbook, homecoming tickets, and other school related gear. Books, eBooks, audio books even partially read books counted. I tried to make this as inviting and easy as possible. I even encouraged students to check out books to keep over the summer.

This year I am expanding SUMMER READING to include LEARNING. While I was pleased with participation last year, I know plenty of students won't pick up a book to read for a variety reasons. This year I am also counting podcasts (see Smore on LibGuide thanks to Casey LaPlante) and TED Talks. Students can listen and watch and log their learning on the same Google Form to be entered. 

Getting the word out can be challenging as I do not teach a regular class. I am asking high school English teachers to post in their Google Classrooms and am using the school newspaper and lots of social media to share a promotional video. I am meeting with 8th grade (soon to be 9th grade) middle school students to invite and teach them how to access the high school's eBooks and audio books. I also send emails throughout the summer to student's school accounts reminding them and sharing suggestions. This year I also have the benefit of last year's summer reading participants to talk it up and inspire other students.

Recommending Books 
Instead of a generic list of "recommended books" I asked teachers and coaches to list their recommendations for students and have them listed on our LibGuide. My hope is that a student might try a book if it has been suggested by a  particular teacher or coach that they connect with. 

Modeling Reading
Inspired by two of my favorite librarians and most avid reader friends, Laura Gardner and Casey LaPlante, I use GoodReads, Instagram and Twitter to share my own reading and suggestions for students. It is important that students see adults conversing about books (or podcasts and Ted Talks) in person and on social media, that reading and learning is not something done just for school.

Last year I participated in Laura Gardner's #30booksummer where teachers ( mostly from her school), a few librarians, and whoever else wanted to join challenged ourselves to read 30 books and post them on social media throughout the summer. I love being part of that reading community, it helps me find personal books to read, it helps me with my orders for my libraries and it helps me recommend books that I may not have read to my students. 

I can't wait to start this year's #30booksummer! 

I am ready...let's bring on Summer Reading & Learning! 


  1. Thanks for writing this post in an honest way. You highlight very clearly how hard you have to work with teachers in order to get the word out. It is not enough to have the idea and create something. You have to have to backing of the teachers to encourage participation and constantly remind the students during the holidays too and you seem to have all bases covered. You are a great example of how to do this well. Elizabeth


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