Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Summer Learning?
  • A Summer Learning Program is very similar to a Summer Reading Program.
  • The main difference is that participants have the option to complete a variety of different activities, not just reading books. Summer Reading Programs focus on having participants read a certain number of books or for a certain amount of time. Summer Learning Programs are more flexible; participants can read, do a science experiment, attend a coding program, design an article of clothing, the possibilities are endless.
  • Because Summer Learning sounds a lot like school, it is suggested that Pennsylvania libraries call their programs Summer Quest.
  • Summer Learning Programs help “participants increase their love of learning and discovery” (NSLA) especially as it aids in spontaneous discovery.
  • Summer Learning helps to attract non-readers to the library during the summer months.
  • Summer Learning provides experiences that expand beyond the program. For example, a child may discover a love of science experiments and continue doing experiments long after the program has ended.
  • Summer Learning helps to build 21st century skills and corresponds with current education theories on the way kids learn.
What are the goals of Summer Learning?

Click here for more information about the goals of this program.

  • Libraries make efforts to reach kids most at risk for summer slide.
  • Libraries provide experiences that have impact beyond the program.
  • Libraries offer age appropriate literacy based programming to help children increase their reading and writing skills.
What types of activities?

The wonderful thing about a Summer Learning Program is that the options for activities are endless. These activities can be completed in the library or at home. Examples include:

  • Reading a book
  • Writing a poem
  • Creating a new game
  • Attending a library program
  • Completing a science project
  • Investigating a country on the Internet
  • Teaching a family member how to do something
Libraries have been doing Summer Reading for years. Why change now?

Because summer slide affects more than just reading levels.

  • “Reading is an important element of summer learning, but the integration of activities that is focused on learning overall creates stronger high-quality opportunities to mitigate the summer slide that many families living in poverty face.” (Yoke)

Summer is a time when kids and teens can spend time learning about topics that they personally want to learn about.

  • “Public libraries are in an ideal position to deliver education programs over the summer because of their strengths as trusted community hubs for learning.” (NSLA)
  • “For many students, reading is seen only as a school-based activity. When the school year is over, so too is the habit of reading. These students perceive reading as an assignment or chore, rather than a pleasurable, leisure activity.” (Cahill, et al) “If students are interested in the content of what they’re reading, then they have an authentic purpose – to find out more about the topic.” (Cahill, et al)

Summer Reading encourages completion of books/pages/minutes. It does not encourage insightful thought about what is read and deep learning. In a Summer Learning program, they will come out of summer having learned something or experienced something new rather than just having completed a program.

  • “…telling students which book to read doesn’t give them a reason to read besides completion, and completion alone motivates them to read fast, not deeply.” (Cahill, et al) This quote applies to summer reading lists but can be expanded to the value of a Summer Learning program over a Summer Reading program.

A Summer Learning program helps build the 21st century skills that kids need to be successful today.

  • The ability to effectively use technology is an obvious skill but kids today also need help with “critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, teamwork, conflict management, and decision making.” (Yoke)
  • “Longitudinal studies indicate that the effects of summer learning programs endure for at least two years after participation.” (RAND Corporation)
  • See this link from the Rand Corporation for information on teaching 21st century skills: The nine tips can easily translate to library programming.

More informational about why can be found in the Resources section of this website.

How do people track progress? How do participants “complete” the program?

Participants will check off boxes on an activity log as they complete them. They then bring their activity log to the library to report on their progress.

“Completion” is up to each individual library or library system. Perhaps a child needs to complete 10 activities to receive a prize. Perhaps that threshold is 20 activities. Perhaps each child is allowed to set his or her own goals for incentives and completion.

What about people who don’t complete the program correctly?

As long as learning is involved, the library patrons/customers have completed the program correctly.

Everyone that enters the library during the summer benefits from seeing the programs and resources that the library provides. Hopefully they will return when the time is right for them.

What about the good readers that have participated for years? Why are we taking away their favorite summer activity?

There is still a reading component to the program. Kids that like to read can choose activities that are more book based.

Most of the activities require some type of literacy skill. For example, you need to be able to read a recipe in order to bake a cake. Creating a game requires a child to think through rules and strategies similar to the concept of plotting a storyline.

Won’t this be a lot more work for librarians in an already busy summer?

No. The main difference between the two programs is the type of activities that participants complete in order to do the program.

Participants will sign up like they’ve done in the past. They will report their successes to a librarian like they’ve done in the past.

Some of the activity options in a Summer Learning Program can be built around activities that the library is already doing. Do you have a weekly preschool storytime? Program attendance can be one of the activity options. Do you have a storyteller visit each summer? Listening to story can be one of the activity options. Do you have a coding program? Don’t forget about technology activities. Do you offer drop-in programs? Activities that are available anytime that the library is open offer opportunities for people when staff-led programs are not available.

Do activities have to fit into the Collaborate Summer Library Program (CSLP) theme?

No. The idea is to for children, teens, and adults to have a variety of learning experiences over the summer. Libraries can suggest activities that follow the theme but this is not required.

I’m not a teacher and this sounds like school

Summer Learning is not an all-day program. Kids can complete activities as they fit into their schedule, just like a Summer Reading Program.

Yes, kids are learning. They are learning about topics that interest them and therefore maintaining and gaining valuable skills throughout the summer.

What statistics will the State want?

Check with your District Consultant in March for the updated report questions.

References Cited

Cahill, Carrie, Kathy Horvath, Anne McGill-Franzen, and Richard Allington. No More Summer-Reading Loss. 2013. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). “Libraries at the Center of Summer Learning and Fun: An Online Toolkit to Expand from Summer Reading to Summer Learning.” 

RAND Corporation. Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning. 2011. National Summer Learning Association infographic

RAND Corporation. Nine Lessons on How to Teach 21st Century Skills and Knowledge

Yoke, Beth. “Adopting a Summer Learning Approach for Increased Impact: A YALSA Position Paper.” Adopted by the YALSA Board of Directors on April 22, 2016.