Public libraries supporting summer reading

Many public libraries offer summer reading programmes for children and teens. Summer reading provides the perfect opportunity to connect (or strengthen existing connections) between schools and the public library.


Connecting to public libraries summer reading programmes
Access to reading material
Public libraries and schools: two-way communication
Further information

Connecting with public libraries summer reading programmes

Many public libraries offer summer reading programmes with events and challenges for reading. A good way to connect is to invite the children’s librarian to visit your school to talk about their programme and any online services such as eBooks and summer reading lists.

Even if there is no summer reading programme at the local library, it’s important and valuable to connect students and their families with public library services.

The Complexity of Community and Family Influences on Children's Achievement in New Zealand: a Best Evidence Synthesis, commissioned by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, cites libraries as a key institution for helping to improve academic outcomes for low-income children.

When parents and children can access local community institutions (eg libraries, medical facilities) and social agencies (eg to receive income entitlements) children’s achievement can be enhanced beyond the level which schools alone can accomplish.

Access to reading material

Connecting with the local public library increases the availability of reading resources to children and teens over the summer. Access to interesting reading material is essentiallow-income children tend to have fewer books at home and live in neighbourhoods with fewer public libraries. Children with greater access to books read more on their own.

Public libraries and schools: two-way communication

Public libraries

To strengthen the partnership with your local schools you might:

  • establish communication channels with them – attend whole school and departmental meetings, for example English Department meetings to meet the staff and promote your programme, services, website and collection
  • visit the school to meet the students; school assembly to promote holiday activities and programmes, school library events such as book weeks, or student librarian connections
  • make a regular visit to the school library during lunchtime to make yourself and service known to the school’s library users – planning this to coincide with school holidays supports the students if the school library will be closed
  • invite schools to come to the library for activities like class visits, author events book launches and book groups
  • invite avid school reader to create a display of books they like and why, perhaps a “Student choice” bookmark
  • provide public library promotional / membership material for schools to send home to parents
  • encourage students to give input into collection development
  • provide schools with feedback about students attending holiday programmes.


To strengthen the partnership with your local public library you might:

  • promote public library membership through various school avenues: eg information on display in the school foyer, encourage parents to join and visit the library with their children through the school newsletter and on the school website, include public library information in packs for parents new to the school.
  • find out how many students are members / use the public library. That data could be part of a promotion campaign or set a school goal of increasing membership by x %
  • take students to visit to the local library – walk or use public transport from the home suburb to the public library and encourage older students visit the library independently
  • talk with students about how you (teacher, school librarian or principal)  use the library–show your library card, talk about when you visit, how you use the library, strategies for avoiding overdue books etc.

Read more about schools supporting summer reading.

Read more about between school and public library collaboration.

Further information

The Directory of New Zealand Libraries has contact details and locations for New Zealand public libraries. It incorporates services to support library business such as interloan services.

PEW Internet's report Parents, Children, Libraries, and Reading looks at the importance parents in the US place on reading, library use and how this effects their enthusiasm for libraries.

Image: Mosgiel Library Summer Reading Programme Prizegiving by Dunedin Public Libraries on Flickr