Our Favorite Summer Reading Memories

Summer reading “makes dreams come true” in so many different ways. We asked our staff to share what makes summer reading special. 

Bookmobile Christie frequented as a child

"Trips to town in the summer left no time to go to the library, as they were mostly just to get a part for some farm machine that had broken down in the field in southern Oregon. That made the bookmobile’s appearance a lifeline for me and my brother when we were in grade school. The bookmobile came to Mac’s Store–a tiny rural store with gas pumps that mostly hosted a truck scale for the farm trucks. The store would give us each a piece of candy when we showed them which books we had checked out, and a popsicle when we finished summer reading."

--Christie, Communications and Multimedia Engagement

"I worked at another library where a young girl and her dad came and asked so sweetly if they could still turn in their reading log after the deadline. Elated when the answer was yes, this girl started looking through the prize books, which included packs of comics. She started getting excited and accidentally raised her voice as she looked through all the options: "Oh, you have Strawberry Shortcake?! Ooh, Pete the Cat!" Then, suddenly, the phrase that will stick with me forever: "Daddy look! All of my dreams have come true! It's Hello Kitty and the Smurfs!" I will always take with me that summer reading can help make dreams come true."

--Amy B, Learning Experiences

Lorrie's daughters reading on the plane

"Summer reading has been special to me since I was a child (thank you, Roselle Public Library), and when I had daughters of my own, sharing that joy with them was a parenting highlight. Part of what made summer reading special for us was the themes. From Feed Your Need to Read to Reading Rocks! and Lights, Camera, Read! we talked about what books would fit, checked them out, read them together or independently, then reported back to the library after each milestone. I also made separate lists of the book titles, which are fun to look back at now that the girls are adults. Small treasures like a bookmark, sticker, or certificate made us look forward to the check-ins, and the annual T-shirts were much loved and frequently worn. Summer reading at the library continues to be as important to summer as rays of sunshine and ice cream!"

--Lorrie, Community Engagement

"When I was in middle school, my best friend's mom worked for our county library system. She knew I was already interested in being a librarian, and she asked me off-handedly one day if I had any ideas for a summer reading theme. I said "Midsummer Magic" (we had just read A Midsummer Night's Dream in school) and promptly forgot about the conversation. When I visited the library that summer, I was surprised and excited to see a "Midsummer Magic" display for the summer reading desk!"

--Amy K, Learning Experiences

A young Mariah reading outdoors

"I loved being outside, but I also loved reading, so going up into my treehouse with a stack of books was one of my favorite ways to spend a summer afternoon!"

--Mariah, Learning Experiences

"When I was seven years old, my library had a safari-themed summer reading program called "The Great Book Hunt" (think pith helmets and binoculars). One of the activities was to find a special book hidden somewhere in the stacks. I made it my absolute mission to find this gold-foil-wrapped book and systematically searched the stacks for hours until I did indeed find it. I don’t remember whether I got a reward for it–the thrill was just in the chase!"

--Jane, Communications and Multimedia Engagement

A newspaper clipping from 1981 highlighting Caitlin's library use

"I grew up in rural Indiana with no TV and hippie parents who chose to creatively homeschool me until I was 8. We spent hours at our nearby library. It was as comfortable and familiar as my own living room. The summer reading program was my introduction to structured (but fun!) learning: read a book, affix a sticker to the form...BLISS! I can still remember the way the stickers felt: papery, and prone to fall off, and the feeling of accomplishment I had each time I added one to my form. I STILL feel this way about summer reading, and I'm thrilled to be a part of the team that provides these meaningful, joyful learning opportunities to my own kids and kids in the community. I only wish I could replicate that hot, heady smell of ditto-printed paper."

--Caitlin, Youth Services

Do you have a favorite summer reading memory? Please share them with us!