summer reading graphic

Evan Bush, director of youth services at Georgia Public Library Service, chatted with Atlanta Parent Magazine to talk about the value of Summer Reading programs.

Help your child get ready for school in the fall through the Summer Reading Program at your local library. Programs typically take place from late May to early August. Learn more at

Atlanta Parent Magazine: Summer reading programs have been very different the past two years due to COVID-19. What will they be like this year? How are libraries planning fun programs with safety for all in mind?

Evan Bush: This will be our third summer reading program since the beginning of the pandemic, and I can’t think of a better theme to guide us than Oceans of Possibilities! After two challenging and unpredictable summers, our libraries across the state of Georgia are beyond excited to reconnect and engage with their communities! Summer programs will vary based on community guidelines, but across the state our patrons will see the widest array of programs and summer fun offered over the past few years.

For those families who are ready to be out and about, but not get too close, most libraries are offering outdoor storytimes and performances.

Our main goal has always been to connect children and their families to incredible children’s literature and dynamic experiences that promote reading, wonder and exploration. If you’ve been holed up in your house for the past two years, this is definitely the year to rediscover your public library!
No matter where your family’s needs fall, there will be something for everyone. For those who are still feeling cautious, there are many libraries offering curbside pickup, amazing crafts-to-go, steam kits, reading subscriptions, virtual programs, book clubs and online music classes.

For those families who are ready to be out and about, but not get too close, most libraries are offering outdoor storytimes and performances.

Many libraries, however, will also be offering indoor, in-person events for the first time since the pandemic began. Parents can expect to see registration for certain programs, to keep patron numbers low for safety reasons. If you’re wondering if a program is right for your family, I recommend calling your library prior to attending a program for more information and safety guidelines.

While we are thrilled to see some of Georgia’s most talented performers touring our libraries once again this summer, our main focus is always on connecting children to the books that make them life-long readers. In addition to our traditional paper reading logs, all families now have access to Beanstack, a digital platform that not only helps kids keep track of their reading, but also allows them to earn badges by engaging in a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities. It’s a great companion to the traditional paper reading logs that adds a whole new dimension of exploration. This is the summer to dive into an Ocean of Possibilities at your Library!

APM: I bet that many Atlanta Parent readers participated in SRPs when they were kids. How are programs the same or different now? Why should they take their kids to the library for SRP?

EB: Studies show that the vast majority of adult library users were introduced to the library when they were children, quite often through storytimes or the summer reading program. These early, positive experiences of reading have a lasting effect on a child’s experience of the joy of reading. Many of us remember our favorite summer reading program as a child – the theme art, moving our name tag from one wall to the next, keeping track in a beloved book log, and getting prizes or books before the new school year began. The only thing that’s changed since then, is that there are more amazing books, and it’s even easier to participate.

APM: Summertime is busy for families with vacations, camps for kids, swimming, etc – Why should they make time for SRP? How can they squeeze it in?

EB: Most families have a pretty loaded summer schedule. There’s a lot to do, from summer camps and sports, to camping and family vacations. The great thing about reading is that it is something you can take anywhere! Whether you’re listening to an audiobook on a road trip, reading an e-book on your device, or a stack of picture books on a camping trip, books are the perfect companion to so many summer activities. But the Summer Reading Program isn’t just about reading, it’s about exploration. Families can check out passes to the aquarium, museums, the Zoo, park passes, and even ukuleles! The sky’s the limit, and it’s all free at your local library!

APM: You are a children’s librarian. What have you done or seen that has worked really well to engage kids? Why do you love library programming for kids?

EB: I have always felt that public libraries are the perfect intersection of imagination, curiosity and wonder for children. As children’s librarians, we find endless ways to connect children to memorable characters, stories, hands-on activities, culture and art. Every summer, for a few short months, we have the opportunity to shape the trajectory of a child’s life through reading and imaginative play that will bring them back year after year for a lifetime.

APM: While kids are participating in SRPs at the library, why should parents do the same?

EB: So many people have this idea that Summer Reading is just for children, but it’s actually for everyone, regardless of your age. Public libraries have very robust summer programs for both young adults and adults as well! You’d be surprised at some of the amazing activities and prizes they have for adult readers. When grownups participate they get the added bonus of becoming a reading role model for their child. It shows their children that reading is both important and fun!