Staff Site

How to Run a Successful Program

Why run a summer reading program?

Studies have shown that school-age children lose much of their reading ability over the summer months if they do not continue to read while they are out of school. Summer reading clubs first started when library staff realized that they could make a difference.

Getting ready

In the spring, participating libraries will receive the 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 to help spread the word that your library will be running the Club.

Registration of participants and statistics 

Library staff should encourage all kids to register for the Club. Remember that even very young participants (including babies!) can join the Club and benefit from it, so it’s important to encourage parents and caregivers to register their children.

We’ve created a registration form for you to use in your library, which tabulates key statistics that 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 will be provided in a blog post during the 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 whether they have registered for the Club in a previous year
  • Total number of programs you 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 that may indicate an increased love of reading

Running the program

The TD Summer Reading Club is designed with flexibility in mind. It is meant to inspire kids to explore the fun of reading their way. Libraries can run the Club in a way that best fits their budget and preference.

As a minimum, provide children with an age-appropriate notebook and a web access sticker when they register for the Club. Below are some ideas to consider for running a successful Club in your library:

Tracking reading

Kids should be encouraged to record all the items that they read or listened to in their notebooks. Kids can also visit the TD SRC kids’ website and enter their web access code to create a virtual notebook in which they can track their reading and website activities.

Goals and incentives

Most libraries give kids a sticker for each book they have 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 that the Club aims to foster the joy of reading. The pleasure found in reading a good book should act as its own reward.

Reporting on reading

Ideally, kids should be able to come to the library at any time to discuss the books they have read with library staff. If kids understand that 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 that 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. Kids can submit one of these forms as an alternative to a verbal book report.

Family-managed book reporting 
If a family cannot make it to the library regularly over the summer, a parent or caregiver can talk to the child about their reading. In these cases, you can provide the parent or caregiver with the full set of stickers for distribution as they see fit.

Engaging all staff and volunteers

All staff and volunteers in your library should be aware that the TD SRC is running at your location. Ensure everyone knows the key dates and the registration process. Ideally, the TD SRC should be an initiative to which many or all staff in your library contribute.

If your library uses volunteers, consider allowing tweens or teenagers to serve as role models for the younger kids. Involve tween volunteers in preparing and helping out with programs.

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. 

This year, we’ve placed an emphasis on offering activities that are tied to specific learning competencies. 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. We focused on creating more STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) content to include for summer learning initiatives. For more information and ideas on summer learning in libraries, see the Urban Libraries Council page on summer learning.

In addition to the activities presented on our website, follow us on Pinterest and check out these blogs for more great ideas:

Maintaining interest

In addition to planning fun activities, you might want to invite community friends and leaders (e.g. firefighters or police officers, the mayor or members of council, etc.) or local celebrities to share their favourite children’s books at your library.

Remember that even if you don’t have activities scheduled at your library, kids can always find something to do on the TD SRC kids’ website, including reading ebooks, telling jokes, writing silly stories and story starters, and more. Please encourage them to check us out online!