Students who participated in their local public library’s summer reading program often feel more prepared to take on the challenges of a new school year. With school starting, it’s a great time to stay engaged at the library and utilize the many benefits of a free library card, from year-round programming to passes for reduced admission cost to museums around Georgia!

Summer reading programs at Georgia’s public libraries offered creative, fun, and free ways to build a love for reading for all ages and abilities.

Libraries held programs around the theme “All Together Now,” with the shared goal of promoting reading and building community. One of the many public library systems that showcased how libraries make a positive impact on students and their community, especially during the summer, included Forsyth County Public Library. The library system serves approximately 267,000 residents across its four branches in northeast Georgia. “There are a lot of ways people can work together to make wonderful things happen. It’s a great way to foster togetherness in the community,” said Kayla Bolton, a youth service supervisor for the system.

At Forsyth County Public Library branches, there were obstacle courses, coloring stations, magic shows, and more. “We’re trying to make everyone aware that we have a great summer reading program. We’re trying to prevent summer slide. And we’re trying to make the library a fun place to be,” said Kayla. At kickoff events, children were encouraged to pick out their first books for the summer and take the first steps toward their summer reading goals.

Families attended kickoff events at their local library.

Sandhya, a Forsyth County community member and parent to two children, ages 4 and 6, is grateful to the library and its summer reading program. “Every story time has so much to offer for the kids. We have particularly enjoyed the music and movement and most importantly, the community that all of this has helped to build,” said Sandhya.

Young girl wearing a lanyard with buttons attached

Students K-12 received lanyards and buttons for completing activities and reading goals.

And throughout the summer reading program, Forsyth County children in grades K-12 were given a lanyard and earned buttons as they reached reading goals and completed activities that kept them learning. “They can use it as a keepsake after, and parents seem to be really enjoying it,” said Kim Ottesen, programming manager for Forsyth County Public Library. “One patron commented how much her elementary boys love the lanyards and said they are reading a lot this year to earn extra activity buttons.”

A highlight from Forsyth County Public Library was a staff-led program series for elementary children called Way Back Wednesdays. ”Every week, children learned about what life was like ‘way back’ before there were cellphones, grocery stores, electricity, and more,” said Kim. “Children learned how challenging it used to be to provide meals for a family by participating in activities like rolling out bread dough and fetching water.”

Parents like Sandhya appreciated the variety of engaging and educational activities, and said she recognizes the impact the library’s summer reading program has had on her children. “Coming from a country where libraries catering to early childhood literacy are unheard of, I truly appreciate all that the library has to offer,” said Sandhya. “Both my children have spent most of their time as infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the library, listening to story time, socializing, and making friends.”

young girl colors paper

Children participated in a variety of activities during the summer.

Georgia public libraries encouraged communities to read more during the summer. In Forsyth County Public Library alone, the system’s patrons recorded more than 5.4 million minutes of reading in June and July.

Many Georgia libraries also served as meal or snack sites for the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, which makes free healthy meals and snacks available to young people in communities with high rates of poverty.


Libraries continue to offer year round ways to engage students such as fine-free student cards, access to ebooks, online learning resources, high-speed Wi-Fi, and much more. Check out some of these resources:

eRead Kids is a digital library available through all public libraries in Georgia. Young readers have access to over 40,000 electronic and audio books. The collection features fiction and non-fiction picture books, basic readers, graphic novels, and chapter books in English and Spanish for kids in Pre-K to fourth grade.

Makerspaces are collaborative work spaces for making, learning, exploring, and sharing that uses no-tech to high-tech tools. These spaces are open to kids, adults, and entrepreneurs and have a variety of maker equipment including 3D printers, virtual reality glasses, Legos, paint sets, soldering irons, and even sewing machines.

Learning Express features college prep tests, math and reading skills improvement tests for grade 4 through college. It is available through GALILEO, Georgia’s virtual library, and is accessible through your library card.