Denver Public Library revolutionizes summer reading programs with Summer of Adventure

The Denver Public Library’s (DPL) Summer of Adventure program is more than a conventional summer reading program – it’s a new way to engage children in independent exploration and inquiry.

Photo courtesy of Denver Public Library Facebook

The SoA program, first implemented in the summer of 2017, invites children to work their brains beyond the page of the book by challenging them to complete activities in three categories: read, create and explore. This summer, the program took new steps by offering programming for the whole family and the “Maker Challenge”, a creative competition that invites children to show off their skills at home, from cooking to singing to carpentry. .

“The program started by looking at how children learn. All children learn in different ways,” said Yanira Duarte, SoA program director at the Denver Public Library. “Some kids want to do or listen or read, so what are those different ways?”

Summer of Adventure Maker Challenge

Photo courtesy of Denver Public Library Facebook

Rather than requiring participants to read for 10 hours over the summer – a feature of past programs – SoA requires the completion of 15 activities in the three branches of the program and offers a free book at the end of the program. The program offers suggested activities for the three categories broken down by age group and changed weekly on Mondays. Suggestions include a foam paint recipe, instructions for building an indoor moving lane, and a hula-hopping challenge, to name a few.

“Which comes down to giving kids choice in the things they want to do and read,” Duarte said. The DPL strives to offer all types of books to children during the summer, whether it’s graphic novels, non-fiction, or books above or below a child’s “traditional” reading level. Librarians also offer readership advice to children looking for books similar to their favorites.

Children playing in a library

Photo courtesy of Denver Children’s Library

However, Summer of Adventure, or SoA, is much more than book recommendations. This year, the DPL is also offering movies in the park on Thursday nights and geocaching at branches.

“SoA is not just about young people, but brings the whole family together”, said Duarte. In recent summers, this has become especially clear as adults have become more involved in the program due to COVID, as libraries have canceled in-person programs and closed their public spaces. Since then, the program has shifted more toward family engagement, Duarte explained.

Denver kids reading

Photo courtesy of Decker Facebook Public Library

Additionally, DPL has also expanded its summer meal program this year. The program, which provides meals for children at select branches, generally operates between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. from June 6 to August 19.

“We have kids that come from when we open to when we close,” Duarte said. “So it’s about how we can also better provide services to young people in this way.”

Today, more than 8,000 children throughout Denver County are enrolled in the SoA program. Although the program began on June 3, children are encouraged to register online or in person at their local DPL library until August 6.

“COVID has had a big impact on these numbers and I wish there were more [participants]but we will take any children who wish to participate in the summer program,” said Duarte.

Like most summer library programs, DPL offers a free book at the end of the SoA program, while supplies last.

According to Duarte, graphic novels are always audience favorites, but popular titles this summer include three times lucky by Sheila Turnage, Jackie Ha-Ha by Chris Grabenstein and James Patterson, The first rule of punk by Celia C. Pérez and Amina’s voice by Hena Khan.

For more information and to register for the Denver Public Library’s Summer of Adventure, click here.


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