Here’s one way to stoke the desire to learn in every member of the family this summer

While librarians do not want students to lose their reading achievements, they also do not want children to lose their sense of wonder and enjoyment with reading.
While librarians do not want students to lose their reading achievements, they also do not want children to lose their sense of wonder and enjoyment with reading. Getty Images

Summer is a great time to relax with a great book, a book that will stir the imagination and help grow the mind. That’s true for everyone.

For children in Whatcom County, there is a robust summer reading program. Bethany Hoglund, head of Youth Services at the Bellingham Public Library has everything you want to know about it.

Question: What is the summer reading program?

Answer: The Summer Reading program is a classic summer-time reading promotion that aims to inspire children, teens and adults to read (or listen to) books over the summer. This year we have bingo cards full of reading suggestions and activities for little kids. We’ve tried to make it easy: pick up (or print out) a bingo card, set your reading, listening or activities goal, meet your goal and be eligible for a prize. That’s it.

We have four separate bingo cards and suggested ages for each. However, anyone is welcome to choose whichever card they prefer.

Early Literacy (birth to 4 years).

Kids (Kindergarten to sixth grade).

Teen (seventh to 12th grade).


Q: When does it start and how long does it last?

A: All summer, from June 1 to Aug. 31st. Many students will receive their bingo card at school prior to the end of the school year. Otherwise, bingo cards are available at all public library locations, as well as online.

Q: Is it just for the Bellingham Public Library or is it for the Whatcom County Public Library?

A: Summer Reading is for everyone in Whatcom County. While the Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom County Library Systems are separate organizations, we work together closely and share many resources, including our books and other materials for checkout.

Summer Reading is a great example of how we try to provide practical, easy service; we’ve teamed up to create one single summer reading program for all of Whatcom County.

Q: Is there a cost?

A: Like all public library events, story times, books, movies and more, Summer Reading is free. Kids and teens can even earn a free book to keep just for setting and meeting their summer reading goal.

Q: Who is it for?

A: Summer Reading is for everyone; truly. For babies, toddlers and preschoolers, Summer Reading is activity-based.

We’ve provided suggestions for activities that get kids and parents/caregivers talking, singing, reading, writing and playing together. For school age kids and teens, we put together a bingo card of activities that involve reading, listening or writing. Adults, you’re not left out either. You too have a bingo card full of reading and listening suggestions.

Everyone gets to set their own goal and do as little or as much as you’d like.

Q: Why should children participate?

A: Children (everyone, really) should consider participating as it is a fun way to take control of your consumption of story during the summer and possibly be inspired to try reading or listening to something new.

Often summer reading is focused on the elimination of “summer slide,” or the learning regression students encounter over the summer when comparing their skill level at the end of one school year to the beginning of the next.

While “summer slide” is a real thing, we’re trying to focus more on the fun of reading and listening to stories over the summer.

Summer is a time to choose what you want to learn about or what adventure you want to go on. While we do not want students to lose their reading achievements, we also do not want them to lose their sense of wonder and enjoyment with reading.

We like to tell parents that while it is important for kids to practice the skill of reading, it is perhaps more important to ensure there is ample fun reading, either through reading aloud or “free choice” by the child, so that children are able to grow in their comprehension skills, can practice their power of choice and that reading remains an enjoyable, desirable skill rather than a chore.

We all love story. Reading and listening to books is story; we can all choose how we want to consume our stories and the library is here to help provide options that are convenient and relevant to children, teens and adults. The public library holds thousands and thousands of stories in a variety of formats.

Keep the library in mind for summer adventures and activities, from getting an audiobook for a road trip to attending an event.

Libraries throughout Whatcom County will be offering story times, special events, craft fairs and more. Visit bellinghampubliclibrary.org or wcls.org for calendars of events.