[HOUSTON, TX. June 1, 2023] – Summertime. For most people, it conjures up images of long weekends at the beach, family vacations, or afternoons escaping the heat at the cinema. But for Harris County Public Library staff, it is the busiest time of the year and one they begin planning for starting when the trees are bare, and some people have not yet taken down their Christmas lights.
HCPL’s Summer Reading Program runs from June 5 to August 5, and HCPL branches across the county are readying to welcome longtime friends and newcomers alike this summer with a variety of fun interactive programs for all age groups, and, of course, the chance to earn cool prizes for summertime reading—the best kind of reading: reading for the sheer pleasure of it.
All Together Now: A Message of Inclusivity and Tolerance
Every year, the Collaborative Summer Library Program chooses a theme for libraries hosting Summer Reading Programs. This year the theme is “All Together Now” The theme aims to emphasize public libraries’ central mission to provide materials, resources, and programs that reflect the full range of human experience and to focus on the things that unite us rather than differences and disagreements.
“If someone walks into one of our libraries and cannot find resources that mirror their experiences and aspirations, then we have failed,” says Linda Stevens, HCPL’s Division Director of Programs, Partnerships, and Outreach, “HCPL is a library for all that encourages dialogue in a spirit of friendship, respect, and tolerance for differences.”
It’s More Fun (and Effective) with the Whole Family
Library summer reading programs were originally developed to combat the “summer slide” --the tendency for students to lose some of the reading and other academic skills they learned the previous year during the summer break. But HCPL believes Summer Reading is more fun, not to mention, more effective, when the whole family gets involved. To that end, the library offers engaging programs for all ages--from babies to great-grandparents.
“It stands to reason, and studies bear it out, that when the adults in children’s lives engage in lifelong learning and reading for pleasure, children pick up on it and carry it forward in their own lives which has direct impact on school and career success, as well as overall well-being later in life”
Summer Reading Is Not Just for Kids
Traditionally at HCPL and public libraries across the country, Summer Reading Program has been a big hit with school-age children, with teens and adults lagging in registration and reading goals attained. This year, HCPL wants to emphasize whole family involvement and to make sure that adults and young adults are aware of all the programs the library offers just for them.
“As we grow older, it’s easy to get into a rut where we think we know everything we need to know to get by and forget that following our curiosity and learning new things is a deep source of pleasure,” says Stevens “Summer is the perfect time to rediscover the library magic.”
Stevens adds that the library offers a wide variety of in-library and online programs during the summer designed specifically for adults and teens from jewelry and art workshops to movie nights and escape rooms. Optional weekly reading challenges help motivate readers and perhaps lead them into areas they might never have thought to explore.
The Library Is the Go-To Source of Free Fun and Enrichment in Tough Economic Times
Summer 2023 is the first since the library went fine free. Earlier this year, Commissioners Court approved HCPL’s proposal to discontinue late fees and to forgive library cardholders' outstanding fines. The driving idea behind the proposal was to bring back patrons who, because of economic circumstances, saw their fee balances as an obstacle to library use.
Fine free lending and the fact that all library programs are open to the public and presented completely free of charge, make the library a great option for everyone who may be struggling in these tough economic times.
HCPL Summer Reading Program Highlights
Celebrate the Start of Summer and Sign-up for HCPL’s SRP
To get things off to a rollicking start and to motivate the whole family to reach their reading goals this summer, many HCPL branches are hosting special Summer Reading Kick-Off events featuring longtime favorites like musician Andyroo, Puppet Pizzazz, magician John O’Bryant and the Houston Astros’ beloved mascot Orbit. Families are encouraged to come by, enjoy the parties and performances, and sign up for HCPL Summer Reading.
Art Education to Spur Creativity and Open a World of Possibilities
HCPL’s Programming Department and branch staff have planned a wide range of arts-oriented programs with community partners like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, and theater troupes Young Audiences of Houston and Books Alive!, along with arts and crafts programs developed by staff.
STEM, Robotics & Maker Programs for Innovators of the Present and Future
New HCPL partner American Robotics Academy will be presenting hands-on robotics workshops for tweens and teens at many branches throughout the summer. Longtime audience favorite Mad Science also brings its special brand of entertaining science experimentation and adventure back this year. HCPL Innovation Labs offer innovators and creatives free access to state-of-the-art maker machines like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC mills, and more throughout the summer.
Learn everything you need to know to get the most out of Summer Reading at HCPL at hcpl.net/summer-reading-program