School libraries supporting summer reading

The school library is at the heart of reading in the school. It can also be a catalyst and important support for putting books in students' hands during the school holidays.


Support summer reading in your school
Promote summer reading in your school
Encourage book discussion and sharing
Work with teachers
Promote summer reading to parents
Maximise use of your library collection
Librarians' own reading over summer

Support summer reading in your school

As the librarian you can strengthen your school's summer reading programmes in a number of ways. You can:

  • share your knowledge of and enthusiasm for children’s and young adult (YA) literature
  • provide resources and services, and stimulate discussion and enthusiasm
  • contribute to creating a reading community.

The library team, represented on the summer reading planning team, can play an important role in:

  • promoting summer reading to students
  • working with teachers to implement holiday reading initiatives with their students
  • liaising with your local public library
  • informing and supporting parents / whānau with their child’s holiday reading.
  • maximising the use of your school library collection.

Promote summer reading in your school

There are various ways your school library can promote summer reading to students. Here are some suggestions:

  • Set up summer reading displays in the library, showing pictures of people reading on holiday, accompanied by quotes and messages of encouragement
  • Highlight popular books in displays and book lists, drawing on the data in your library management system:
    • class favourites - F or NF, most popular authors or titles
    • teachers' favourites
    • most borrowed books from your library this year
    • great reads, popular series, read-alikes “If you like this… then try this".
  • In primary schools: create bookmarks with titles and space to write
  • Help students choose easy and enjoyable books with the focus on reading for pleasure - promoting the message about keeping summer reading FUN!
  • Suggest some friendly goals or challenges to read a certain number of books or minutes a day
  • Teach younger children about caring for books – book bags, keeping books in a particular place
  • Celebrate returned books at the beginning of the new year, with acknowledgement of books read, cared for and returned
  • Promote holiday reading through online channels such as your library blog or website

Encourage book discussion and sharing

Many children and teens figure out what to read from conversations with friends, peers, librarians and teachers and through social media, and websites like Goodreads. To encourage sharing you can:

  • share reading recommendations and reviews, book talks and promotion
  • put notes in books for students about why you are recommending this book for them and others who have enjoyed it
  • set up online opportunities for book sharing and recording, eg blog or website or social account such as LibraryThing or Goodreads
  • celebrate summer readers in the new school year, with displays, photos, comments on favourite books, and opportunities for people to share their holiday reading discoveries and recommendations
  • run a “bring a book / swap a book” programme, especially for copies of fiction series such as Goosebumps, PonyPals, Skulduggery Pleasant, Percy Jackson etc.

Work with teachers

It's important for all staff, in particular librarians and teachers, to be reading role models who read and know childen's and YA fiction. To encourage teachers to read you could:

  • provide teachers with a bag of books to read over the summer – your personal recommendations from your own reading and knowledge of their interests / student year level.
  • encourage teachers to borrow books to read over the summer, from the school library, public library or National Library Services to Schools collection.
  • use borrower information from the library management system to focus on students and their reading preferences

Read more about Teachers supporting summer reading.
Read more about Public Libraries supporting summer reading.

Promote summer reading to parents

To promote and support summer reading among families you might:

  • allow family borrowing over the holidays and help parents know what their children might like to read
  • set up family / whānau cards for students’ families to borrow from the school library
  • provide summer reading guidelines to take away as well as having on display in the library.

Read more about Families supporting summer reading.

Maximise use of your library collection

  • Implement enabling policies, which may mean changing the default settings on your library management system to create more generous and forgiving borrowing entitlements and loan periods.
  • Look into options for increasing access to the library, perhaps opening the school library on a given day during the summer holidays, or for a few hours in the latter part of the holidays.
  • Primary schools: Make a special book bag for borrowed books and talk to students about caring for books and returning books after the holidays.
  • Consider incentives for book returns.
  • Investigate options for moving the library stocktake to Term 3 so that the library can remain open for borrowing at the end of the year.

Read more about helping children choose books for reading pleasure

Librarians’ own reading over summer

Reading over the summer is enjoyable, and builds your knowledge of children's and YA literature. In turn, you'll become a great reading role model. Keeping up your reading (not only over summer) is an essential part of a school librarian’s job, enabling you to share your enjoyment and make recommendations to students.

Most librarians are avid readers and don’t need much encouraging to take home armfuls of books to read for pleasure. In doing so, you'll be actively contributing to the school’s reading culture.

Read more about school staff as readers
Read more about planning a school-wide summer reading programme.

VIsit the SLANZA website to download their Successful Summer Reading Programme resource. It provides some ideas on how school library staff can plan a summer reading programme, along with a number of case studies.


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