New York State Library
Summer Reading at New York Libraries


In 2021 1.1 million children and teens participated in Summer Reading at New York Libraries.

In 2022 the summer reading slogan is “Oceans of Possibilities!”
Libraries are already busy planning exciting programs and events.

Over 1.1 million young people from pre-K to teens participated in Summer Reading at New York Libraries in 2021. The summer 2021 reading slogan, focused on animals and nature, was “Tails and Tales.”

Undaunted by challenges related to COVID and the pandemic, 688 local libraries and 237 neighborhood branches (919 of New York State’s 1,068 public library outlets) offered a vibrant Summer Reading program during 2021. Participating libraries offered over 22,000 programs for children and 6,700 programs for teens. Library staff noted that many families were grateful to have a return to a more “normal” summer, where children could come to the library safely to visit, learn, and explore.

Chart showing participants in summer reading programs, from summer 2000 -- 344,000 readers, to summer 2021 -- 1.1 million readers

Many public libraries collaborated on Summer Reading activities with local schools and school libraries. In 2021, local libraries encouraged student engagement by safely offering many different and creative types of programs, whether indoors, outdoors, virtual, or grab and go activities or kits.

“For many families during the pandemic, their local library was a vital resource to keep them connected to information and services,” said Chancellor Lester W.Young, Jr.

“It is imperative that children continue learning during the summer months and our summer reading program offers a tremendous opportunity to keep them engaged.” said Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “Children that read in the summer enhance their reading skills, prevent summer learning loss and are better prepared for a successful school year.”

What is Summer Reading at New York Libraries?

Onondaga Woods display at Onondaga Free Library
Onondaga Free Library

The New York State Library partners with New York’s 23 public library systems, 757 public libraries and 311 neighborhood branches statewide every year to offer a statewide summer reading program. Many public libraries work with their local schools to encourage students to visit the library over the summer and engage in Summer Reading activities. The free, annual program is supported by the State Library in conjunction with partners like the School Library Systems Association of New York State, Hunger Solutions New York/Summer Meals, the State Assembly and Senate, 4-H/Cornell Cooperative Extension, the New York State Reading Association, New York Council for the Humanities, the New York Library Association and the New York State Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs Inc. The program gives children and teens the opportunity to access the vast resources of New York State’s public libraries to support their summer reading and learning. Participants can explore and engage in all types of learning activities and events at their local libraries. At the end of the program, participants receive recognition for their participation and achievements.

Summer Reading at New York Libraries is a growing program and is always reaching out to include more children and families as well as school and community partnerships. In 2022 the summer reading slogan is “Oceans of Possibilities!” and libraries are already busy planning exciting programs and events.

Local libraries throughout New York State use the annual theme and materials provided by the New York State Library and the Collaborative Summer Library Program/CSLP national consortium to create a summer reading and learning program geared towards the needs of their local communities. Libraries partner with local organizations and schools to help create and promote a vibrant summer program for all ages. Library staff help participants select reading materials and provide in-person and virtual programs such as storytelling, music, creative arts, science/STEM, and performances by local and national presenters.

Collage of animal-themed displays from Nassau County libraries
Nassau Library System
Large library windows, viewed from exterior, featuring a number of animal-themed illustrations
Elbridge Free Library

To further support kids and families during the summer months, a growing number of public libraries offer snacks or meals to ensure access to healthy food year-round through the Summer Meals Program coordinated by Hunger Solutions New York. The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded program that enables qualified organizations – including public libraries – to work with a local sponsor to serve free meals to kids and teens in eligible areas.

Summer Reading at New York Libraries is the best summer bargain in town:

Two visitors read a panel from the Seneca Park StoryWalk
Seneca Park StoryWalk, Summer Reading Pop Up in the Park, Monroe County Library System
  • Library programs are offered free of charge all summer long to children from toddlers to teens. Parents are encouraged to participate as well.
  • The State Library provides the online CSLP Summer Reading Program manual to all 1,100 public library, branch library and reading center locations in the state, making professional-quality program materials available to every community.
  • The State Library also provides public libraries with free access to READsquared and the READsquared App, so children, teens and families can track their summer reading progress 24/7.
  • Libraries and schools often work together to coordinate Summer Reading activities or offer Summer Meals.
  • Local libraries throughout the State work with their library systems and the New York State Library to keep students engaged and create the best program for their library and community.

The Importance of Summer Reading: Public Library Summer Reading Programs and Learning: highlights of research on summer reading and effects on student achievement

Summer Reading at New York Libraries is funded through the Federal Library Services and Technology Act, with funds awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. The New York State Library is a program of the Office of Cultural Education in the New York State Education Department.

Last Updated: February 9, 2022