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Schlow Summer Reading Program Moves Online with Special Virtual Events Planned

by on May 18, 2020 11:38 AM


Registration for the Schlow Centre Region Library Summer Reading Program is now open, with the program beginning June 1 and running through Aug. 19. This year, however, the popular seasonal program looks a little different, with programming held exclusively online due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions.

“With everything that is going on in our community and the world right now, I think it is more important than ever to offer a summer reading program,” says Paula Bannon, head of children's services at the library. “One of the main goals of the summer reading program is to prevent the ‘summer slide’, which is the concept that kids lose a portion of what they've learned in school by not reading over the summer. 

“Our program is important because it encourages kids to keep reading every day. Furthermore, since it is likely that many of the community's regular summer activities will not be able to happen as normal, our program adds an interactive summer learning element that provides families with fun activities to do together throughout the summer. And I think it's important for Schlow to offer a summer program in order to provide a sense of normalcy and excitement for our kids during a very unusual and difficult time.”

Programs are available for groups of babies to age 2, ages 3 to 12, ages 12 to 17 and ages 18 and older. 

“Reading is a perfect escape and an opportunity to learn,” adds Karen Lambert, adult services librarian. “As Paula mentions, decreasing the summer slide is critical for children and teens, and I believe this summer’s reading program is most important due to the school closures and potential cancellation of summer group activities. In addition, Schlow Library is more than books; Schlow offers free educational and recreational opportunities for all ages.” 

In the past, Schlow has challenged children to read 3,500 pages through June and July in order to win a spot at the library’s end-of-summer bowling party. Since that party may not happen this year, the Schlow team put together a new experience for children. Weekly pop-up challenges ask children to visit a dedicated web page on the Schlow website every Monday, June 15–Aug. 10, to receive a new challenge. When challenges are completed, participants receive a secret code to earn virtual tickets for prize drawings. 

Other favorite Summer Reading events are also moved online or adjusted to fit social distancing requirements. The Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary, for example, is a staple library visitor during the summer program; this year, the sanctuary offers a virtual experience, June 6, which will still give families an up-close-and-personal look at the organization’s reptiles and accept questions from curious kids.

Highlighted events on this year’s summer calendar include “Podcasts 101: Exploring the World through Audio with Jenna Spinelle and David Pencek”, a workshop for teens and adults; the Adam Swartz Puppet Show for ages 3 to 8; a presentation of Aesop’s Fables from Bright Star Touring Theatre; and the 10th annual BookFestPA.

“BookFestPA will be held Wednesday, July 8–Friday, July 10, with virtual events throughout the three days,” says Lambert. “Some of the scheduled virtual events will include a virtual story time, chalk the walk, children and adult authors book talks, a drink and draw and a costume contest. Plus, we’re working on a surprise virtual author appearance.”

Lambert notes teen and adult summer reading programs have already been hosted online for several years, but this year the teen and adult events will likewise be virtual. 

“There have been challenges in that we had to determine if and how our events could be held in a virtual space,” she says. 


However, there will be unique, new opportunities for library patrons thanks to this year’s programming going virtual. 

“For the teen program, we are excited to partner with two middle school librarians [from the State College Area School District] to hold a virtual Teen Book Chat throughout the summer, where they will highlight new books, conduct read-alouds and more. We’re continuing our partnership with SCORE and CareerLink with virtual workshops,” says Lambert.

Register for the Schlow Centre Region Library Summer Reading Program at



Holly Riddle is a freelance food, lifestyle and entertainment writer. She can be reached at [email protected]
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