Summer break is filled with family vacations, long days at the pool and play dates with friends. Homework is forgotten as quickly as the last bell rings; but it's important to keep kids' brains working over the summer, especially when it comes to reading. Students who don't read over the summer run the risk of losing some of the gains they made during the school year. Engaging them with books also helps cut down on screen time, which may increase during the summer months.
Thankfully, most area public libraries offer some type of summer reading program with incentives to keep kids interested and reading until school starts. Here's a look at some of the summer reading programs you can join throughout the St. Louis metro area. In addition to those listed, most local, community libraries offer some type of summer reading program. Check with your local library today.
St. Louis Public Library:
The St. Louis Public Library Summer Reading Program runs through July 29. To complete the program, kids and teens must read five chapter books or 15 picture books. Just visit a library branch to sign up in person, and then track reading and claim prizes at any SLPL location. Prize packages include a free book at the appropriate reading level, passes for the Magic House and the Missouri Botanical Garden, and a voucher for Cardinals tickets while supplies last.
The St. Louis Public Library headquarters is located at 1301 Olive Street in downtown St. Louis, with satellite locations around the city. For more info, visit slpl.org.
St. Louis County Library:
Summer Reading Club at the St. Louis County Library runs through August 5 with age-appropriate clubs for pre-school kids up to adults. The club uses a points and rewards system with different levels for different age groups. Kids earn prizes at the halfway point, upon completion and can even receive bonus prizes for going beyond the requirements. Some of the prizes include books, River City Rascals ticket vouchers, Magic House Night invitations and raffle entries to win memberships to local area attractions, as well as larger prizes like an iPad, Beats headphones or a Kindle Fire.
The St. Louis County Library headquarters is located at 1640 S. Lindbergh in Frontenac with satellite locations across St. Louis County. For more info, visit slcl.org.
St. Charles City-County Library:
Those on the West side of the Missouri River can join the St. Charles City-County Library's Build a Better World Summer Reading program, running May 22 through August 1. Kids complete an age-appropriate game board by reading books, then turn them in for a prize package including a library backpack, a free book, a River City Rascals game ticket, a Bahama Bucks coupon and entry for a chance to win a Kindle Fire, Cardinals tickets and Kokomo Joe's passes. Kids can complete multiple game boards for more prizes and chances to win. The library also offers free lunch for kids under 18 from June 8-August 9 at 1 p.m. at the Kathryn Linnemann Branch.
The St. Charles City-County Library has multiple locations across St. Charles County. For more info, visit youranswerplace.org.
Kirkwood Public Library:
Kirkwood Public Library's Summer "Reading Under the Sun" program for kids, teens and adults runs May 20 through August 21. Participants track reading by minutes and hours to win prizes at various levels up to 100 hours. Some of the prizes include Magic House admission, River City Rascals tickets, free snow cones at Tropical Moose shaved ice, and other discounts and freebies from local businesses. The Kirkwood School District even offers grade-level suggested reading lists on the library's website to help kids select age-appropriate books.
Kirkwood Public Library is located at 140 E. Jefferson Ave. in Downtown Kirkwood. For more info, visit kirkwoodpubliclibrary.org.
University City Public Library:
The University City Public Library Build a Better World summer reading program runs through July 21 for ages four to 17, with a special new "First book Club" available this year for kids three and under. Kids download a printable time tracking sheet and earn prizes for time spent reading including food coupons, special event passes, books and more. They can also come in and spin a big prize wheel every time they report on at least an hour of reading. Those who read at least 12 hours will be entered in a drawing for St. Louis Cardinals tickets. Kids who read 24 hours and up earn a spot on the library's Outstanding Reader List.
University City Public Library is located at 6701 Delmar Blvd. in University City. For more info, visit ucitylibrary.org.
Ferguson Municipal Public Library:
Kids of all ages are invited to join Ferguson Municipal Public Library's Build a Better World summer reading program starting May 22 and track reading time through July 29 to win great prizes like an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, Lego sets, science kits and more. Register by filling out a form in person at the library for the appropriate age level. Beginning readers (up to kindergarten) will receive a packet with a game board and must do 20 activities on the board to complete the program. School-aged kids (up to 17) must read 15 hours over the summer to complete the program, with small prizes awarded after 5, 10, and 15 hours.
Ferguson Municipal Public Library is located at 35 N. Florissant Road in Ferguson. For more info, visit ferguson.lib.mo.us.
Maplewood Public Library:
Running through July 28, Maplewood Public Library's Build a Better World summer reading program offers a unique experience for each age group. Pre-K children use a simple paper and sticker system to track library visits and books read to them by parents to earn coupons from area businesses. School-age kids up to fifth grade can track reading via an online system with special challenges and rewards at various levels. Teens use the online tracking system as well and can also join monthly "Teen Café" after-hours programs at the library. All participants are invited to join an end-of-the-summer swimming party at the City of Maplewood's Family Aquatic Center on July 28.
Maplewood Public Library is located at 7550 Lohmeyer Ave in Maplewood. For more info, visit maplewood.lib.mo.us.
O'Fallon Public Library:
This Metro East community library offers an eight-week "Reading by Design" summer reading program for kids ages two and up. Online registration begins May 30 and the program runs through July 29. Each week, the library will explore a specific subject through storytime events, games, entertainers, crafts, group activities and more. Kids can design their own summer program by setting reading, learning and community goals. A kick-off carnival will be held on Saturday, June 3 at Katy Cavins Community Center, from 10 a.m. until noon.
The O'Fallon Public Library is located at 120 Civic Plaza in O'Fallon, Ill. For more info, visit ofpl.info.
Summer Lunch Program at the St. Louis County Library
In addition to its summer reading program, the St. Louis County Library in also offers a free Summer Lunch program for kids at seven area locations in partnership with Operation Food Search. Kids can enjoy a nutritious lunch along with activities Monday through Friday from noon to 1 p.m. June 5 through August 11. On Thursdays, families will receive a bag with food for the weekend and pizza will be served on Fridays. No registration is required. Visit slcl.org for participating library locations.
Amy Burger is a mom, freelance writer and communications professional with nearly 20 years experience working in St. Louis. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and media outlets including STL Parent, Missouri Life magazine, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Town & Style and kdhx.org, among others. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two beautiful girls at home in Kirkwood.