Imagine Your Story this summer

While this year’s summer reading program is all virtual, kids still can earn beads for reading and activities, just as these readers did in 2019!

By Shelley Harris and Genevieve Grove, Children’s Librarians

Can you imagine a year without your library’s summer reading program? Neither can we! That’s why we’ve put together a safe, convenient, and fun new way to participate in our classic program online, starting June 1.

This summer’s virtual version is super flexible, makes it easy to track your progress, and provides loads of ways to make learning fun. Because keeping everyone safe and reading for fun are our goals this summer. 

Imagine Your Story with storybook characters

Get ready to Imagine Your Story online 

From June 1 through August 31, families can track their reading and activities with an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform called Beanstack, accessible from anywhere through an app and web browser.

Kids age 3 through rising 9th graders are encouraged to read, be read to, or listen to audiobooks for 20 minutes a day to help us reach our community goal of 450,000 minutes read, as well as participate in activities around their home and community.

Beads, badges & bonus features

For every hour logged, kids earn virtual badges and, as in past years, beads to build a necklace or keychain. Kids also can earn badges and beads for completing art, science, literature, and movement activities tailored to their ages, the majority of which are screen-free. Bead pickup or delivery will be arranged this summer. 

Beanstack has great features, including a timer so kids can track themselves and automatically log their reading, and a translation feature so families can read the challenges in their native language or a language they are practicing and learning.

All reading is good reading

Remember: all reading is good reading! Books, magazines, graphic novels, audiobooks, podcasts, fan fiction, reading aloud to someone, or being read aloud to—these all count and are encouraged. Siblings can even work together by reading aloud to each other or listening to something as a family.

We have digital book recommendations for babies through graduating middle schoolers, all of which can be checked out online through Hoopla or Media on Demand & Libby with your Oak Park library card. We also plan to have recommendations for podcasts and apps, because there are so many ways to bring stories into your lives.

Summer reading = lifelong reading

Research has shown that kids who read over the summer keep their skills sharp and are better prepared for learning in the fall. And in 2013, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that kids who choose their own books lose even fewer skills over the summer.

That makes summer the perfect time to help kids develop their own preferences and explore new and familiar genres at their own pace. When kids love what they read, they’ll love reading, now and in the future.

We look forward to seeing you all again soon! Happy summer reading.