Six weeks into summer reading: ‘Kids are blowing us away’

Our prize fairies have been busy delivering summer reading beads all over Oak Park! We’ve already given out more than 11,000 beads and plan to deliver 5,000 more in July. Prize delivery will continue through the summer, and you can still sign up online through August 31.

By Children’s Librarians Shelley Harris and Genevieve Grove 

5,100 challenges completed.

2,000 books read, in 285,000 minutes.

975 readers.

11,000 beads earned.


Six weeks into our new virtual summer reading program, kids are blowing us away with their enthusiasm and determination.

Adults know that kids who read at least 20 minutes a day during the summer lose fewer skills before school starts up again in the autumn. Kids know that reading can be fun, and that’s what is important to them—and it will make them lifelong readers and learners.

Prizes galore!

Have you seen us riding bikes and driving through town, making deliveries? Your home could be next!

Library staff members have been busy packaging prize beads and special messages to not only the 100+ finishers, but also kids who have hit 5 and 10 hours of reading. We’ve already given out more than 11,000 beads and plan to deliver 5,000 more in July!

Prize delivery will continue through the summer, and you can still sign up for the program online through August 31. No signups or prize pickups will happen in person, even when the Main Library reopens in a limited way in Service Level 2.

What are you reading? Need ideas?

Of the top 12 books logged by Oak Park participants this summer, the first and last Harry Potter books make a strong showing. Who doesn’t want to find themselves in a magical world, helping to save the day?

Gorgeous graphic novel and Newbery Honor winner Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson also has risen to the top, encouraging kids to find out who they are and to navigate the pressures of friendship and growing up—while being on a roller derby team. 

Other top reads include picture book Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems, graphic novel Dog Man by Dav Pilkey, novel The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies, the Rainbow Magic early chapter book series by Daisy Meadows, the Dork Diaries middle grade series by Rachel Renée Russell, and The Lightning Thief by Percy Jackson.

Looking for ideas? Find recommended books for babies through rising ninth graders on our website. And 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.

Plenty of summer left: Sign up and keep tracking

Imagine Your Story runs through August 31, and 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 ninth 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.

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.

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.

Ways to use your library this summer

On July 22, the Main Library only will reopen for self-service, including selecting and checking out materials, with limited hours and capacity, social distancing, and face coverings required.

If you’re not ready to visit in person, you can keep using your digital library, which offers massive amounts of content you can safely check out with your library account.