Can you imagine a year without Oak Park Public Library’s summer reading program? Neither can we! That’s why we’ve put together a safe, convenient, and fun new way to participate in our classic program online, starting June 1.

This summer’s virtual version is super-flexible, makes it easy to track your progress, and provides loads of ways to make learning fun — because keeping everyone safe and reading for fun are our goals this summer. 

Summer reading = lifelong reading

Research has shown that kids who read over the summer keep their skills sharp and are better prepared for learning in the fall. And in 2013, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that kids who choose their own books lose even fewer skills over the summer.* That makes summer the perfect time to help kids develop their own preferences and explore new and familiar genres at their own pace. When kids love what they read, they’ll love reading, now and in the future.

Get ready to Imagine Your Story online 

From June 1 through Aug. 31, families can track their reading and activities with an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform called Beanstack, accessible from anywhere through an app and web browser.

Kids, age 3 through rising 9th-graders, are encouraged to read, be read to, or listen to digital audiobooks for 20 minutes a day to help us reach our community goal of 450,000 minutes read, as well as participating in activities around their home and community.

For every hour logged, kids earn virtual badges and, as in past years, beads to build a necklace or keychain. Kids also can earn badges and beads for completing art, science, literature, and movement activities tailored to their ages, the majority of which are screen-free. Bead pickup or delivery will be arranged this summer. 

Beanstack has great features, including a timer so kids can track themselves and automatically log their reading, and a translation feature so families can read the challenges in their native language or a language they are practicing and learning.

Sign up, get recommendations: oppl.org/kids

Remember: all reading is good reading! Books, magazines, graphic novels, audiobooks, podcasts, fan fiction, reading aloud to someone, or being read aloud to — these all count and are encouraged. Siblings can even work together by reading aloud to each other or listening to something as a family. 

Visit oppl.org/kids to sign up starting June 1, and get links to book recommendations for babies through graduating middle-schoolers, all of which can be checked out online with your Oak Park library card or account. We also have recommendations for podcasts and apps because there are so many ways to bring stories into your lives.

For adults and teens, check out our all-virtual Many Voices, Many Stories community reading program, also starting in June. And for the latest updates on building closures and services, visit oppl.org/faqs. 

We look forward to seeing you all again soon. Happy summer reading!

* University of Rochester Medical Center, “‘Summer Slide’ Reduced by Letting Kids Pick Their Own Summer Reading,” May 20, 2015. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/4326/summer-slide-reduced-by-letting-kids-pick-their-own-summer-reading.aspx

Shelley Harris and Genevieve Grove are children’s librarians at the Oak Park Public Library.

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