Below are resources for PA SummerQuest. Please select a topic for more information. Scroll down to find some great programming ideas!


Making the case for Summer Learning

Need help talking up Summer Learning to stakeholders? Check out these talking points. Need more information? Read the articles.

“Since 2012, participation in CPL’s summer programs has increased from 50,000 students to 99,000 last summer [2015]—including kids who didn’t join in the past because they were not into reading, McChesney speculates.”

“The shift … is an effort to prevent the learning “slide” that often occurs for children as soon as school lets out for the summer. These expanded summer programs also reflect librarians’ growing emphasis on STEM learning and helping children find ways to pursue their interests.”

“Public libraries are able to keep students engaged in learning over the summer, and play up “the joy of learning” by responding to children’s interests or giving them experiences that schools might not have the time or funds to provide during the school year, says Emily Samose, director of education and learning initiatives at the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). Summer reading programs have tended to attract students who are already strong readers, but these new initiatives are drawing in children and youth who may not usually think of spending time in the library over the summer.”

Jacobson, Linda. “Get Ready for Endless Summer Learning.” School Library Journal. March 1, 2016.

“The Accelerate Summer project is really about discovering the ways in which libraries are evolving their traditional, transactional summer reading programs to expand their offerings and reach beyond ready readers,” said Samose. “These institutions are now providing different kinds of learning activities that serve kids across the board no matter their academic achievement level, family situation, or level of enthusiasm for reading.”

“…the program not only reinforces literacy skills, it encourages skills in additional areas in ways that may appeal to more young learners.”

Accelerate Summer: Public Libraries Evolving Summer Reading Programs to Expand Summer Learning Opportunities.” Institute of Museum and Library Services. June 18, 2016.

“Summer learning is an approach to engaging children by providing active learning experiences that are positive, experiential, educational, but most importantly, fun!”

“Children who struggle with reading may not be comfortable coming to libraries for reading programs, but can feel more welcome in a hands-on activity that has a more experiential approach. Slightly changing or enhancing programming can reach many more families than traditional reading programs.”

“By providing experiences that can scaffold children’s understanding of the words they are reading, libraries are not only providing fun experiences for children and families, but they are helping children build personal experiences and supporting their academic learning and comprehension levels.”

The above quotes can be found in

Caputo, Christine and Christy Estrovitz. “More than Just Summer Reading: The Shift to ‘Summer Learning.” Children and Libraries. Spring 2017.

The National Summer Learning Association has created a helpful infographic with summer slide facts

Imagine the difference we can make by changing 2-3 months of the summer for kids from low income Karim Abouelnaga was one of those kids. Now he runs “A Summer School Kids Actually Want to Attend.” Learn more through this TED talk.


More than Just Summer Reading: The Shift to ‘Summer Learning.’” Children and Libraries, Spring 2017.

Giving Books as Incentive

Incentives are a big budget item in many Summer Learning programs. Giving books as an incentive is one way to further strengthen the reading component of a Summer Learning program, however, books can be expensive. There are cost-effective options for providing books as incentives for the Summer Learning program.

Promising Practices

Add Engaging-Educational-Fun activities as well as experiences to the summer learning logs. For example: Follow instructions in a book, go outside and look for two different birds, exercise for 20 minutes, attend a community event, make something.

Adding hands-on and inquiry-based learning activities to summer reading programs so that summer programs are about doing, as well as reading. STEM, connected learning, and other active learning activities that connect to your summer reading theme and/or the interests of children and families. Allow participants to engage in activities at the library or at home and link these experiences with reading material. Activities could include visiting a museum, cooking a meal at home, writing a letter, or working in a library maker space. Expand partnerships with other organizations providing summer programs (such as parks & recreation camps) to reach more youth and provide multiple opportunities to participate.

Skill Maintenance and Enhancement

Skill-based, drop-in learning activities include flexible, active learning designed for participants to gain academic or 21st century skills such as experimentation and problem-solving, collaboration and teamwork, etc., while accommodating families’ needs for flexible summer opportunities that don’t require enrollment in a 5- or 6-week camp.

Mini-Maker Faire

Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.

School-Reading Readiness

Free Library of Philadelphia’ Back to School Jumpstart Camp targets rising kindergarteners through 3rd-graders in an early literacy program that sets specific goals in six areas: reading level, behavior, attitudes toward learning, attendance, “deep” practice with reading, and writing practice. Certified teachers deliver instruction, and site teams bring together staff members with complementary strengths and experience. The team uses multiple methods to determine if children are making progress. In addition to pre- and post-tests in reading and behavior, students self-assess their attitudes toward learning, an attendance log on the wall is used to track participation, and reading logs and student-produced books are used to demonstrate practice in reading and writing.


Engaging community businesses such as yoga studios, dance academies and art centers in offering a short series workshops so youth have an opportunity to explore different areas interest. Services groups and local businesses are often willing to underwrite or sponsor such activities. Exposure to diverse experiences helps children define determine career pathways.

  1. Passive Programming
  2. Recycle Saturdays
  3. Library Scavenger Hunt Activities
  4. Science Saturdays

Product Runway

This program is both educational—youth are learning about careers in the fashion industry—and recreational. Youth learned to sew their own clothes using alternative and non-traditional materials—duct tape, plastic wrap, recycled clothing—and then modeled their new fashions at a fashion show hosted by the library.

Food Fun

Many children and teens are interested in learning to cook or are considering a career in the food service industries. Invite a local chef or restaurant owner to demonstrate how to prepare a simple meal. Let the youth practice adding artistic touches to a meal through plate presentation and decoration.


Digital cameras make this an inexpensive program. Youth can learn the basics of photo composition and how to get good shots. Couple this with a program on printing where youth can learn to add special effects to make their photographs more artistic.

Knitting Clubs

The library makes pattern books available for check-out and provides yarn and a few knitting needles or crochet hooks for the beginners to use in the library. Staff has found that there is always a great core group that participates, but new youth participate all the time because it's a program where youth can socialize and be productive.

Kindness Kits

Families made bags full of gifts to brighten someone’s day. Depending on the resources available, this can include making a box or bag using a die-cut machine or using purchased bags. Arlington provided each teen with a Chinese take-out box to decorate. The box was then filled with candy (to sweeten the day), candles (to brighten your life), and small items with cute sayings to bring a smile. Groups of children or families decide what to put in bags, who they bags might go to, how we will get items etc.

SPA Makers

Provide all of the supplies to let youth make their own spa products, such as soaps, lotions, and bath salts. Books like InSPAration: A Teen's Guide to Healthy Living Inspired by Today's Top Spas provide the details for easily making a variety of products. If there is a local business that sells bath and beauty products, invite the owner to demonstrate how to use the products and reduce stress through relaxation.


An altered book is any book that has been recycled by creative means into an object of art. Altered books can be rebound, collaged, painted, folded, added to, adorned, or modified in any way that strikes the artist’s fancy. Provide old, discarded books or invite the teens to bring their own. Offer an assortment of trinkets, craft supplies, and tools. Altered book programs that allowed teens to express their interests creatively. The success of the programs lie in the flexibility of collage art, which is intuitive and allows even teens who don’t feel they can be creative with traditional arts to succeed. Why stop at books? Almost any product can be altered.

Board Game Tournaments

Use Monopoly or any other popular board game for a round robin tournament. Hasbro offers a tournament guide online at Register players in advance, serve refreshments for observers, and provide prizes and tournament certificates for players. This is a great opportunity to put older youth “in charge,” allowing them to establish the procedures and monitor play.

Checkers/Chess Club

 Chess is an intellectual game that helps develop self-esteem. An additional benefit is that it draws together teens who might otherwise believe they had nothing in common. Let the youth self-direct games and tournaments. Invite older community members to teach chess.

Comedy/Talent Show

Youth compete at their local branch library to find the funniest youth/talented youth.

Host a songwriting contest. Teens write lyrics to an original song and record it (or get a local band to record it). Submit an MP3 file or link or a compact disk. Host an “American Idol” style program where the audience votes for their favorite song. Get Caught Reading Take a tip from the Get Caught Reading campaign and ask teens to take digital photos of themselves and their friends reading favorite books. Host the photos on Flickr or another photo sharing website and rotate the best onto your library teen page. Check out for some cool tools that allow teens to add interesting frames,

Teens love to play video games and many are interested in the nuts and bolts of designing them. Even in smaller communities you may find a professional game designer and many companies will provide speakers (check the website for the companies that create the games that are popular with your teens). More and more community colleges and technical schools are also offering classes in game design. Free programs like Scratch ( can be used to facilitate learning.

Teen Advisory Groups

Teen Advisory Group (YAG) Like most of us, youth want to have their voices heard and a YAG can provide meaningful volunteer work for teens. In addition to providing great public relations for the library, teens in a TAG can help with fundraising, planning and producing programs, maintaining the teen Web site, writing reviews, and more. YALSA provides a tip sheet for starting a TAG, as well as ideas for TAG activities, at

Icons to Create Activity Logs and Games

 Summer Quest Icon Book  Summer Quest Icon Clock Summer Quest Icon Envelope Summer Quest Icon Glue and Scissors Summer Quest Icon Headphones Summer Quest Icon Magnifying Glass Summer Quest Icon Paper with Lines  Summer Quest Icon Pen and PaperSummer Quest Icon CameraSummer Quest Icon Popcorn Summer Quest Icon Tree Summer Quest Icon Video Camera books jump rope marker microscope music paintbrush pallette pencil plate Summer Quest Icon Blocks Summer Quest Icon Checkers Summer Quest Icon Comic Strip Summer Quest Icon Heart Summer Quest Icon Journale Summer Quest Icon Kids Summer Quest Icon Laptop Computer Summer Quest Icon Library Card Summer Quest Icon Library Summer Quest Icon Musical Instruments Summer Quest Icon People Reading Summer Quest Icon Telescope



Websites, Blogs and Reports

Family Programming
This report has a lot of ideas and concepts to think about as you plan to engage the whole family.

Learn about how to include gamification in your library program.

The National Summer Learning Association
This site has numerous pieces of valuable information.  It includes research, infographics, information on the National Day of Summer Learning.

The Knowledge Matters Campaign 
Learning new knowledge actually increases intelligence. Just like practice in sports leads to new skills and better performance, time spent reading and studying leads to higher achievement and greater ability.

Wonderopolis: Where the wonders of learning never cease.
Wonderopolis inspires students, teachers and families across the globe to learn through curiosity.