In this guest post, acclaimed-author Douglas Rees talks about working in a library and how to keep kids reading in the Summer. Doug is the author of ELEKTRA’S ADVENTURES IN TRAGEDY a Young Adult novel released by Running Press Kids in 2018 and TYRANNOSAURUS REX VS EDNA, THE VERY FIRST CHICKEN a picture book released by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in 2017 and named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR. But he is no stranger to middle grade. One of his best-known books is UNCLE PIRATE and its followup, which was even made into a play.

The fourteen-foot python raised its head level with mine. Its black, forked tongue flicked the air near my face. Was I good to eat? I held the snake just a foot or so behind its head, feeling the ripple of its powerful muscles and I wondered, not for the first time, where in my job description it said anything about python wrangling.

But for a public librarian in summertime, pythons, whether they are specifically mentioned or not, are just part of the job. Libraries all over America up their game in the summer months, and no matter how active programming may be the rest of the year, you can count on summer being busier.

Most of these programs will be offered by outside providers – musicians, magicians, naturalists, puppeteers, and others who have training experience, and, often, very impressive abilities to entertain children across a wide range of ages.

How best to find out what your library is offering? Just check the library website. A little sleuthing will reveal the not-so-hidden wonders that the librarians are planning. Or ask your children if they’ve had a visit from the library at their school. This is the time of year that librarians try hard to get face time with assemblies of kids to talk up the new summer reading program. Some libraries even get time on public and commercial television to get the word out.

But it doesn’t stop or start with the special programs. They are only part of the larger goal – to stop the “summer slide” that happens when kids stop reading during the months school is out. In recent years, the traditional summer reading clubs many of us remember from childhood have become a nationwide effort with a common theme. Whatever the theme is, the goal is always the same: to make the summer, and reading, more interesting and more fun. Children – and increasingly, adults – can sign up, track their progress, win a few prizes, and best of all discover new stories, new hobbies new interests that can broaden horizons and enrich lives.

Public libraries are always ready to welcome new readers and to cultivate our regulars, but summer is the time when we put our best feet forward to make our point: we are here to engage, enlighten, and entertain through the medium of books. And there isn’t much we won’t do to get your attention.  And library cards are free.


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