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Summer Reading News

Applebee’s Franchisee: “Summer Reading Challenge”

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants across upstate New York are teaming up with The Salvation Army to encourage children to ‘give and get’ an appetite for reading this summer through its “Summer Reading Challenge.”

Kids and their parents who drop off a new book into The Salvation Army barrels at Applebee’s restaurants in upstate New York and Connecticut receive a bookmark and a special Applebee’s Bookworm Club card featuring a free Oreo Cookie sundae coupon, redeemable on their next visit. Once kids 10 and under read and record 10 books on their Bookworm Club Card, they will also receive a free kid’s meal.

The book drive runs through the months of July and August. The goal is to collect more than one ton of books in upstate New York and Connecticut and distribute more than 230,000 Bookworm Club Reading Cards through area library summer reading programs and at restaurants during the “Summer Reading Challenge” timeframe.

Individuals who do not wish to donate a book but would like to participate in Applebee’s Bookworm Club can find cards at participating schools and libraries across upstate New York. Parents can also download the card online at The Bookworm Club is a reading-focused reward program that encourages students to record the books they’re reading on Bookworm Club cards.

Summer Reading Launch in Watertown 6/27/12

North Country libraries celebrated the start of “Summer Reading at New York Libraries” with an exciting all-day kickoff event at the historic Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library inWatertown,New York. The launch event included a press conference at noon followed by activities involving the entire community: children, teens, families,FortDrummilitary personnel, legislators, and library and education professionals.  The kick-off activities were held outside of the library as part ofWatertown’s Wednesday Farmer’s Market.

Speaking at the press conference were Senator Patricia A. Ritchie, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, Jenny Adfit, Jefferson County Legislator, and New York State Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Jeffrey W. Cannell, with introductions by Barbara Wheeler, director of the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library.

In attendance at the event were Stephen Bolton, Director of the North Country Library System, Emily Owen, Youth Services Consultant for the North Country Library System, Karen Balsen, Coordinator of “Summer Reading at new York Libraries,” as well as community members and local media.

New York Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Jeffrey W. Cannell remarked on the importance of summer reading, “It is our fervent hope, that through the efforts of our formidable and committed team, young people throughout the state will begin school this September committed to and prepared for academic excellence.”

“In a time when so many of our youths are using electronic gadgets, it’s important to endorse libraries,” said state Senator Patricia A. Ritchie. “It’s important to teach our children how important reading is.”

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell is partnering with the summer reading program by participating in the “Assembly Summer Reading Challenge.” If a child reads 15 minutes a day for at least 40 days in July and August he or she will receive a state Assembly Excellence in Reading certificate from Assemblywoman Russell.“I send every certificate in the mail,” she said. “I have to keep signing and signing and signing because so many kids are reading.”



Immediately following the press conference was a live performance by “Austin Davis & the Movement.” Austin Davis, lead singer and guitarist, is a soldier musician from Fort Drum who recently served in Afghanistanas a combat engineer.Daviswas joined on stage with his wife, Chelsea Davis, playing rhythm, and her brother, Adam Falge, on bass. This event was sponsored by the library’s Adult Services department.

Children’s librarian Ashley Groff held a story time before the press conference that had over 60 children and their families in attendance.

There were also library volunteers like Tammy Stout, a professional face painter, who donated her services for the day. Also on the library lawn were craft stations, a duck pond game, and henna tattoos for teens.

A used book sale took place all day long to benefit the library. The book sale takes place every Wednesday outside of the library. At each event children were given the opportunity to sign up for “Summer Reading at New York Libraries.” Over 200 children and their families participated in the launch festivities.

Local media reported on the launch:

The WatertownDaily Times:


For more information about the Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, please visit

Start a book discussion group for children at your library

“Summer Reading at New York Libraries” has been expanding their partnership with the New York Council for the Humanities to include exciting new training opportunities for librarians. The first opportunity, which was held in June and announced on our blog, “Summer Reading News,” trained 70 librarians throughout the state on how to start and maintain a quality Summer Reading book discussion group.

Presented and created by Erika Halstead from the New York Council for the Humanities, the webinar focused on training librarians to develop a “Big Idea” for discussion and start activities that trigger further discussions in the book group. Librarians walked away from the webinar with definite insight and enthusiasm for starting a book discussion group or adding to an existing program.

The visuals and text from the presentation are available at the following link: You can click through with the arrows or use the “More” tab to view it in full screen. 

The link is also available on the New York State Library Development website at, along with other helpful training information.

Be sure to stay updated all summer long by reading our frequently updated blog “Summer Reading News” and by liking our Facebook page, “Teen NY!”


Summer Reading Launch in Buffalo 6/13/12

Buffalo and Erie County Public Library celebrated the start of their “Summer Reading at New York Libraries” program with a wonderful kick off event on June 13th. This launch event for western New York State highlighted the hundreds of special programs and events that have been planned for this upcoming summer as part of the Summer Reading initiative at the BECPL.

New York State Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Jeffrey W. Cannell attended and made remarks at the event. “The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System joins 1,100 public libraries and more than 1.65 million young people inNew York State who are expected to participate in Summer Reading activities. I encourage families to use their libraries because they have so much to offer.”

Two highlights of the BECPL’s Summer Reading Program are the “Read Down Your Fines” program and the “Battleof the Books” program. “Read Down Your Fines” gives children ages 16 and under an opportunity to read-off overdue library fines. For every 15 minutes of reading, a child can earn library bucks toward reducing or eliminating overdue fines. All local libraries will be running the program through September 1. The 14th Annual “Battleof the Books” takes place on Saturday, August 4. This popular summertime team trivia competition is for youth entering grades six through nine. There are currently 35 teams from local libraries who are all reading the same books as they prepare for trivia questions about those books while vying for the coveted “Battle” title and trophy.

Participants in the kick off event included the general public, local elected officials, and 40 kindergarten students fromEnterprise Charter School in Buffalo. At the end of the program, “Maisy,” the well know picture book character distributed a special book for each child to keep, compliments of the Library System.

“Last year, more than 39,000 children and teenagers took advantage of library Summer Reading programs right here inErieCounty,” said Mary Jean Jakubowski, Library System director. “Just because school is over doesn’t mean reading should stop. In fact libraries provide tremendous resources and support all summer long. Summer Reading is a fun way to keep kids academically sharp for when they head back to school.”

Summer Reading Launch in Syracuse 6/12/12

The Onondaga County Public Library celebrated the launch of their “Summer Reading at New York Libraries” program with a kick off event on June 12th at the Robert P. Kinchen Central Library in Syracuse, NY.

Last year in Onondaga County 5,715 children and teens participated in “Summer Reading at New York Libraries,” reading over 90,000 books and attending 978 special programs. 

Virginia Biesiada, president of the Onondaga County Public Library Board of Trustees, welcomed the public, press, SyracuseUniversityprofessor Ruth V. Small, CSEA representative Holly Sammons,CountyExecutiveJoanne M. Mahoney, and New York State Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Jeffrey W. Cannell to the event.

Syracuse University professor Ruth V. Small spoke about the summer reading research project that is being conducted this summer by Syracuse University.  In her speech, CSEA representative Holly Sammons described the role library union members have in making Summer Reading possible. 

County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney addressed the importance of summer reading and libraries for all children in theSyracusearea and introduced New York State Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education Jeffrey W. Cannell. Jeffrey Cannell officially launched “Summer Reading at New York Libraries” for the central region of New York State.

Easily Create a Summer Reading Promotional Video for Your Library

Create an exciting Summer Reading promotional video for your library! Using the website Animoto, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library has created a fantastic video that is animated with pictures and text that promotes their Summer Reading program. Click here for a link to their video.

The video that the Buffaloand Erie County Public Library created was originally used in their “Summer Reading at New York Libraries” launch event on June 13th and was presented in a loop throughout the event alongside the Summer Reading Public Service Announcement. Once your video is created it can be used in a variety of situations, such as being posted to your library’s website or played at Summer Reading events throughout the summer.

Making Your Summer Reading Programs Inclusive

by Renee Grassi

As we prepare for summer reading season, there are so many questions that run through our librarian heads. “Are the reading logs completed?” “Do we have enough prizes?” “Did I remember to book the meeting room for our kick-off event…?” Getting the details in place for our annual SRPs can sometimes be a grueling task. Amidst the craziness, I think there’s one question we should always find time to ask ourselves: “How am I reaching underserved populations in my community with this year’s program?” No matter what type of library you work at–large or small, urban or rural–there are families with children with special needs who are looking for ways to be a part of their community this summer. What better way than to visit the library and sign up for the library’s summer reading program! The truth is, though, many families with children with special needs may not see the library’s summer reading program as an inclusive option for their child. It may not be because of anything we librarians have done intentionally–it could just be that public libraries haven’t make an extra effort to say “Hey, this program is for all children–including your child with special needs.” Sometimes, we need to make a conscious effort to switch mindsets. Try asking yourself questions like “Are there any barriers in our summer reading program that might deter families with children with special needs from participating?”and “What accommodations can I make to serve my community more fully?” Evaluating your library’s program from a different perspective may help you improve your services.
-Sign-up requirements: Are the summer reading programs at your library structured by age? If so, consider making exceptions for those patrons that might be older chronologically, but younger developmentally. If you are approached by a family with someone who has a lower developmental age and that person wants to participate, is there flexibility in your program to accommodate the request? Also, consider having both in-person registration, as well as online registration for those families who may find it more difficult to make an in-person visit to the library.
-Expectations for participation: If your program requires children to read, does it also allow for children to be read to? The ability to read may not be a skill that a child with special needs has yet acquired, so giving parents or caregivers the chance to read to their children would be more inclusive. What about listening to books on CD or reading animated books on an iPad or Kindle Fire? Many children with special needs utilize different technologies for better accessibility, so promoting different reading options will open up the scope of your program to a wider audience. In addition, many of our programs expect children to read a certain number of books, pages, or hours. If you speak to a family with a child with disabilities, start up a conversation with them about their child’s needs and abilities and consider making an accommodation about how many books, pages, or hours are required.
-Reporting: How do you track participant progress throughout the program? Are children encouraged to come to the desk and talk to a staff member about the books they’ve read? While this is, of course, a great skill for children to practice over the summer to help improve their comprehension, reporting requires a certain set of social expectations–not to mention the ability to communicate verbally with another person. Giving children the option of writing their thoughts down on paper would be a great accommodation for those with social anxiety. But if a child with autism, for example, is non-verbal, how could he participate? Some libraries offer communication boards created using Boardmaker to give non-verbal children the chance to communicate. Children could point to words and images to communicate their thoughts and feelings about something. A board like this could incorporate images and phrases like “mom,” “dad,” “I/me,” “read,” “book,” “home,” and “library.” If you’re interested in creating a board like this for your library, contact one of your local special education teachers. I’d bet they would be happy to give advice and even help you create one. Many of us can get bogged down by the range of details and rules that are created for summer reading programs. Don’t get me wrong–structure and consistency is a good thing in my book, especially because those details and rules help our programs to run smoothly all summer long. But when we structure our summer reading programs, we are often catering to the masses to create a set of rules that target the general public. If we want to reach out to those underserved patrons with special needs and provide them with opportunities to participate more fully, it might be okay to bend a rule. Or two.

Note: This article was originally published on June 5, 2012 to the “Official Blog of the Association for Library Service to Children” by author Renee Grassi. The link to this article can be found at:

Summer Reading Flowchart: What Should You Read On Your Break? has created a very detailed flowchart with the purpose of guiding high school students to exceptional literature that they can enjoy this upcoming summer. Starting out broad with fiction and non-fiction, the flowchart then branches out into genres and then specific interest groups that are sure to accommodate the needs of even the pickiest reader. You can print the flowchart at the following link:

Summer Reading Flowchart

Via and USC Rossier Online

YALSA: National Teen Space Guidelines

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association, has published “National Teen Space Guidelines,” a set of standards for creating quality public library spaces for teens. The guidelines are based on the following nine points:

Physical Space:

  1. Solicit teen feedback and input in the design and creation of the teen space.
  2. Provide a library environment that encourages emotional, social, intellectual development of teens.
  3. Provide a library space for teens that reflects the community in which they live.
  4. Provide and promote materials that support the educational and leisure needs of teens.
  5. Ensure the teen space has appropriate acceptable use and age policies to make teens feel welcome and safe.
  6. Provide furniture and technology that is practical yet adaptive.

Virtual Space:

  1. Ensure content, access and use is flexible and adaptive.
  2. Ensure the virtual space reflects 21st century learning standards.
  3. Provide digital resources for teens that meet their unique and specific needs.

The document can be viewed at:

This Summer Start a Book Discussion Group with Children and Teens

Are you interested in starting a book club where kids or teens get together to talk about summer reading books? The New York Council for the Humanities (NYCH) will show you how to do it!

NYCH offers workshops on book discussion groups for children and adults as a component of their literature based grant offerings to libraries. As part of the on-going partnership between New York State Library and NYCH, this high quality professional training is now offered to public libraries throughoutNew YorkState. 
In this one-hour webinar, participants will learn how to:

  • Pick the right books.
  • Get a group together.
  • Ask good questions.
  • Keep the conversation going.

All you need to participate is a computer with internet access and a phone.

Sign up now!
Summer Reading Book Clubs for Kids:
Wed, Jun 6, 2012 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Fri, Jun 15, 2012 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Summer Reading Book Clubs for Teens:
Wed, Jun 6, 2012 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Participants will receive one hour of Professional Development credit from the New York Council for the Humanities, a partner of the New York State Library. For more information on Professional Development requirements for public librarians see

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