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How to Run a Successful Program

Why run a summer reading program?

Studies show that school-age children lose some of their reading ability over the summer months if they do not continue to read while they are out of school. Summer reading programs are a proven tool to help bridge the gap between school years and maintain academic achievement.

The TD Summer Reading Club (TD SRC) is designed to inspire kids to explore the fun of reading their way—the key to building a lifelong love of reading. The benefits of the Club are clear: at the end of summer 2019, 90% of children who participated in the Club said they read more often or the same amount over the summer, and 84% of parents/caregivers agreed that their child maintained or improved their reading skills over the summer.

Getting ready

In the spring, participating libraries will receive free print materials to distribute to kids, including notebooks, web access codes and stickers. If you missed the deadline for ordering materials, or if the materials don't arrive by mid-May, please contact

Before the summer, check out our Outreach and Promotion page for tips on how to promote the Club in your community.

Registration of participants and statistics 

Please encourage all kids to register for the Club. Even preschoolers and babies can benefit from joining and being read to over the summer.

We’ve created a master registration list for you to use in your library to collect the key statistics you will need to report on at the end of the summer.

Library contacts and regional administrators will receive an email containing a link to the statistics form at the end of the summer. More information on this will be provided in a blog post this summer. Please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Total number of registered children by age group (0–5, 6–8, 9–12, 13+), and how many have registered for the Club in a previous year
  • Total number of programs offered in the library and in the community, and the total attendance
  • Total number of promotional visits you made to schools, day camps, child centres and other locations, and the total attendance
  • Testimonials from parents, caregivers or teachers indicating an increased love of reading

Running the program

The TD SRC is designed with flexibility in mind. While we provide a list of recommended reads for kids to explore, please encourage them to choose their own books and have fun reading whatever they want.

Libraries are free to run the Club in a way that best serves their community. As a minimum, please provide children with an age-appropriate notebook and a web access sticker when they register for the Club.

Below are some ideas to consider to run a successful Club in your library.

Tracking reading

Encourage kids to record all the items they read or listen to in their notebooks. Kids can also visit the TD SRC Kids’ Site (full site live in mid-June) and enter their web access code to create a virtual notebook and track their reading online.

Goals and incentives

Most libraries give kids a sticker for each book read or listened to. Some libraries reward kids for a certain amount of time spent reading. Other libraries will offer small prizes or incentives (in addition to the stickers) to encourage kids to read. Whichever method you choose to distribute stickers or other incentives, please remember the Club aims to foster the joy of reading. Studies indicate that kids who enjoy reading for its own reward are more likely to become lifelong readers.

Reporting on reading

Research shows that children who engage in conversations with adults have better language and cognitive skills. Consider book reporting as a fun way to start a conversation with kids about what they’ve read. It’s a great opportunity to get to know kids in your library and learn about their reading interests.

If possible, allow kids to come to the library at any time to discuss the books they have read with library staff. If kids feel like the library is a positive environment where they can talk to other readers (other kids or library staff), it will encourage them to read even more.

If you are overwhelmed with children or are short-staffed, you may prefer to have scheduled reporting times. You can promote specific times each week when you invite kids to come to the library to talk with staff about the books they have read. Or, you might wish to arrange times when kids discuss books as a group.

We’ve provided you with sample book report questions you can use with kids to report on their reading.

Written or illustrated book reports 

Forms for written and illustrated book reports are available for download. If desired, you can make these available for participants to fill out and submit as an alternative to a verbal book report.

Family-managed book reporting 

Families can participate anytime, anywhere. If a family cannot make it to the library regularly over the summer, please provide the parent or caregiver with the full set of stickers. Encourage them to talk with their child about their reading and distribute the stickers as they see fit.

Engaging all staff and volunteers

Get all staff and volunteers involved! Let them know you’re running the program and ensure everyone knows the key dates and registration process. Ideally, the TD SRC should be an initiative to which many or all staff in your library contribute.

Consider setting up a reading buddies program where younger children are paired with older children to read together.

Planning activities

We’ve come up with a list of activities for you to consider running at your library. For all activities, you can substitute materials and modify the instructions to suit your location. For your convenience, many of the activities have pre-made templates for you to print out and we’ve made an effort to include many passive programming options.

We understand many libraries across Canada are increasing the impact of their summer programming by engaging kids in both summer reading and summer learning. We’ve responded by expanding our program content to better support libraries. All of our activities are tied to specific learning competencies and many include STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) content. For more information and ideas on summer learning in libraries, see the Urban Libraries Council page on summer learning.

For more great ideas, follow us on Pinterest and check out these blogs:

Maintaining interest

Build excitement for your programs or events by inviting community friends and leaders (e.g. firefighters, police officers, local celebrities, the mayor or members of council, etc.) to share their favourite children’s books.

If you’re not able to offer programs or activities, kids can always find something to do on the TD SRC Kids’ Site, including reading ebooks, telling jokes, writing silly stories and story starters, participating in trivia, recommending books, and much more. Please encourage them to check us out online!