Summer Reading: An Adventure Down Memory Lane

Since this year’s Summer Reading theme is Adventure at Your Library, I decided that one way to explore the theme is to take an adventure down memory lane.

Did you know that libraries have a history of providing Summer Reading programs since the 1890s? You read that correctly, the 1890s! That’s over 130 years of libraries being the place to be for summer reading. It was for me as a child of the 1990s and it may have been for you, no matter when your childhood took place.

From many interactions I've had over the years with library customers, I’ve noticed that the mere mention of “Summer Reading” tends to unlock special memories, especially for adults. These core memories center around prizes, books, programs, events, or libraries. I decided to ask HCPL staff to share their favorite Summer Reading memories from their youth. 


Reading Alllllll Day!

“My favorite thing about summer reading was that I could read alllll day and no one told me what to read. I had the freedom to read what I chose, whether it was rereading something I loved or exploring something new.” - Kara L., High Meadows Branch Library

Future librarian in the making.

“I loved all the prizes; things like trips to Palm Beach at Moody Gardens or the medals or trophies I received at the end of the summer. But the thing that stood out to me the most was the log the library gave us to keep track of our reading. There were these little clocks on the page where we were supposed to color every time we finished 30 minutes of reading. Each time I colored one in, the satisfaction I felt helped build my confidence as a reader. I was proud of myself each time I turned a login to the librarian.” - Nikki S., Collection Development Librarian

There’s always fun to be had at the library!

“My favorite summer reading memory as a child was participating in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston's Art Camp at Octavia Fields. Art Camp is a cherished summer reading memory that created my lifelong appreciation of art, museums, and libraries.” - Anjela M., Library Administration

Rewarding Experiences

My favorite SRP memory is also filling out the paper tracker! At my childhood library, we got a big grid full of "5's" and every time we read 5 minutes we crossed one of the 5's out. When all 5's were crossed out, we would take that paper to the library and redeem our prizes, which we got to pick out from the library workroom! Going "behind the curtain" to that cramped, windowless office space always felt like a prize in and of itself when I was a kid. - Katelyn H., Collections & Technical Services Librarian

E-Books for the Win!

“My favorite summer reading memory is the year I discovered e-books. Finally, I could stay up all night reading, and no one could hear the pages turning!” - Julia T., Kingwood Branch Library


What’s fantastic about these Summer Reading memories is that they are not something limited to the past. Since HCPL’s Summer Reading Program is open for all ages, we are able to create new Summer Reading memories. So, if you are feeling nostalgic and want to earn cool prizes, sign up and participate in HCPL’s Summer Reading Program today!

Visit the Summer Reading page to learn more about all the fun and activities at HCPL this summer.

Check out HCPL’s Digital Archives to see Summer Reading through the years.