Arkansas Libraries Begin Summer Reading Programs

Jun 6, 2017

The theme for 2017's nationwide summer reading program is "Build a Better World."
Credit Collaborative Summer Library Program / Collaborative Summer Library Program

Libraries across Arkansas will join libraries nationwide to encourage patrons to “Build a Better World” this summer.

The summer reading program is an event in which libraries across the country, united by a common theme, promote reading and educational activities during the months most schools are closed.

“This years theme is Build a Better World,” said Liz Dearing, a librarian assigned to the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, “so a lot of our programs are going to be centered around things like gardening, and making things with your hands, recycling programs that teach the young children about living responsibly in this world.”

The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) is a consortium of libraries from around the country that decides each year’s theme and provides materials and ideas for programs to member libraries. Matt McLain, a library manager in Utah, is the president of CSLP.

“Having a similar theme across libraries helps people really feel like they’re part of something bigger, so if I’m from Utah and I came to Arkansas and I saw kids wearing the same t-shirts that I see at my own library I think, ‘Wow, I’m part of something a lot bigger than just my own little library,’” said McLain. “People across the country are enjoying and celebrating the same things together.”

The summer reading program began 30 years with 10 libraries in Minnesota and now includes libraries from all 50 states. Providing academic support is one of the main goals.

“Summer reading is a way to keep kids reading over the summer to prevent the ‘summer slide’ which is where kids start the next school year at a lower education level than they finished the previous school year.”

While kids are the focus, many libraries also offer events and recommended reading lists for adults. Here in Little Rock, programs include magicians, musicians, and a mobile aquarium, as well as a night out at an Arkansas Traveler’s Game.

Dearing said, “Every year we absolutely love it. And this’ll be the first year that I’m spending the summer reading program at a different library other than Fletcher and I’m really fortunate to be spending it at the Children’s Library. As we speak, there are children everywhere.”

Little Rock’s Fletcher branch is closed for renovations, but a list of programs in other central Arkansas branches can be found here. Local branches can be contacted to find programs in every part of the state. This map can help you find the libraries in Arkansas.