Friday, April 3, 2015

17 Ways to Accomplish Summer Reading

How do you run your summer reading program? There are so many different ways to encourage patrons to read, we decided to compile a list for you:

Game Challenges

  •    Bingo/Card Game.  Each space has a required action, which can be related to reading or to the library. When they complete 5 in a row, they win a raffle ticket or prize. If they do a cover all, they win another prize. Or, if you want to go more free form, you can make a generic card with more than five rows and allow patrons to earn prizes when they complete at least 5, 10, and 15 goals on the card (in no particular order).
  •    Game Board. For each day patrons read, they get to roll on the game board. They collect stickers, raffle tickets, and sometimes prizes as they go around the board.
  •    Themed Challenges. Give out small pieces of an activity that, when completed, will give patrons a raffle ticket. For example, one year, patrons received a letter tile for each book read. When they came up with a word, they turned in the tiles for a prize and a raffle ticket. This summer, the plan is to give out super hero puzzle pieces and patrons will get a raffle ticket when they complete the puzzle.
  •     Challenge Booklet. The booklet has 50 challenges for teens to complete with four different point values.  For every five points they earn they receive a prize entry form.  Usually each branch draws for prizes at their location and then there is a grand prize for the system. Entries can be submitted at a branch or in email and we upload it all to our Tumblr ( The booklet because it encourages creativity outside of reading and every year the teen advisory boards rewrite half of the booklet to keep it fresh and interesting for the participants.

Instant Wins!

  •     Scratch Tickets. Create your own scratch tickets where teens can win small and medium prizes instantly. If they lose, they can put that ticket into the grand prize raffle. (We explain this program in more detail here:
  •     Prize Wheel. Once a child has read x pages, they get to spin for a chance to win: free cookie, French fry, books, etc.
  •     Prize Machine. Every book a teen reads, they get a token to put into the prize machine. They could win small prizes like candy, erasers, etc. or they could get a piece of paper (tucked into plastic balls) that will give them chances to win the bigger prizes or a fun quote… 
  •     Tiered Prize System. Something where the first two levels are simple and easy to give out to everyone, but the next levels are limited to the first x who reach it.  For example, when people sign up, everyone will get one prize. When they read 5 books, they all get a candy bar. When they read 10 books, they win $5 to Starbucks (First 20 Teens), 20 books – free book (First 15 teens) etc… (for more details, check out    


  •    Specialty Tickets.  Earn a ticket when you visit the library, two tickets for a short book review, and three tickets for attending programs.
  •    Weekly Raffles and Contests. There are many different variations, but it could be as simple as show the librarian your book log and earn one ticket to enter the raffle. Or it could be more complex like every book, magazine, or audiobook read will earn a ticket for the weekly drawing. Losing tickets go into the grand prize raffle at the end of the summer.
  •    Prize Auction. Earn library dollars (coming for events, reading, etc.) that patrons can use in a prize auction at the end of summer. 

Community Engagement

  •    Community-Based Rewards and Experiences. Instead of winning items, patrons can get tickets to local places like the sports team and coupons for free food to their favorite hangouts. Many local businesses are happy to donate these prizes and coupons, especially when it means the winners will be bringing additional customers with them when they use the prize.
  •    Earn Money for the Library! Friends of the Library (or any other organization) promises to donate $1 to the library's materials fund for every book read.    
  •    Community Reading Goal. Ask the community to read a total of 1,000,000 minutes and keep track of everyone’s reading time on a score board. All participants will also get weekly prizes and will have a chance to pick raffle baskets.
  •   Read for Voting Privileges. When participants read for an hour, they earn a marble to vote on what kind of Final Summer Reading Party they want. 


  •    Book Logs.  Read x pages/x books/x days for a prize/raffle ticket. It looks like most library goals are to encourage 5-10 books read in the summer or reading for 30 minutes a day.
  •    Book Reviews. Write up a short book review to earn a prize/raffle ticket.
Special thanks to the following librarians for sharing what they do at their library: Diane Giarrusso, Steven Fowler, Allison Cusher, Ebba Hierta, Lois McAuliffee, Jocelyn Baldwin, Duyane Alexander, Brianna Hanson, Laura Faunce, Julia Hendon, Alisa Burch, Carolann Macmaster, Diane M. Ranney, and Ami Segna.

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