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Reading Programs for your Church Library

Updated on July 9, 2015

Get Kids Reading--Adults, Too!

Plan a Themed Summer Reading Program at Church

A church library should contribute to the education and recreation of the community. Summer is a perfect time to promote reading for all ages. Plan a simple program, promote it, and watch both children and adults enjoy a summer of enrichment and fun. To see what other churches are doing, network with other church librarians at--where else--Church Librarians' Network!

Be sure to prepare a display of great books for children and for adults to encourage readers. Consider compiling a list of recommended books by asking teachers, pastoral staff, and parents for recommendations. Summer is a great time to add a new children's book series to the library collection.

Summer Book Club Ideas

Simple Themes to Anchor the Reading Program

To make a summer reading program easy to implement and promote, choose a fun theme or contest as the centerpiece of your promotion effort. Some example include:

  • Travel Theme: Participants get a map with a marked path and can "travel" a specified distance for each book they read until they reach their destination. A variation would be to make "passports" and give stamps whenever a child finishes a book. Small prizes can be given as incentives and can incorporate a travel theme, e.g. sunglasses, luggage tags, or travel-themed stickers.
  • Sports Theme: Emphasize that readers are winners through a fun program that incorporates sports. The reading record sheet could resemble a football field with "yardage" awarded for books read. Post a scoreboard on the library door to show books read by boys v. girls--or make it a contest between parents and children.
  • Missions Theme: Require each participant to read at least one book from a collection of missionary biographies or stories about other countries. Post a world map in the library and let kids mark places that are mentioned in the books they read.
  • Animal Theme: Feature books that include animals. Use a zoo map as a reading record and offer prizes with an animal motif such as small stuffed animals, animal print notebooks, and animal erasers.

Promotion of the Program

Encouraging Maximum Participation

Start promoting summer reading weeks before school ends for the year. Many families go on vacation right away, and you'll want kids to be reading! Ask the pastor for permission to put a notice in the church bulletin and newsletters. Post information about the program in the library. Send home flyers with Sunday School members. Perhaps you could even have Summer Reading Club T-shirts available in the library.

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If your church does Vacation Bible School early in the summer, offer kids a chance to register then as well. They can catch up even if they missed the first week or two.

Last year (2012) I did a July Book Blast. Since I had limited time to do a program, I focused my efforts on a time when kids had fewer activities to compete for their attention--after Independence Day and before the back-to-school crunch time. I made some simple posters and reading record sheets with a firecracker theme and offered a prize box at the end of the month with "gold," "silver," and "bronze" prizes based on the total number of books read.

July Book Blast 2.0 has concluded at Life Community Church. Plans for 2014 are underway.

Summer Reading Poll

What kind of summer reading program does your library do?

See results

What do you think about summer reading?

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    • denetraharris profile image

      denetraharris 4 years ago

      Thanks for the book club idea for the church library attendees.

    • SBPI Inc profile image

      SBPI Inc 4 years ago

      Great program keeping people as active and enthusiastic readers. Mind remains open and sharp during a learning process which is fun.


    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @anonymous: All our pastors are readers, and they are wonderful about giving me a heads-up when they plan to recommend a book from the pulpit or in a class. I make sure to have several copies on hand because even adults will read if they are encouraged:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a great idea to create a church library! We all have plenty of books we've picked up along the way that may have been read once or not at all and could be ministered to others through a library I heard Jesse Duplantis say once that the best way to keep truth from a Christian is to put it in a book because we buy them and don't read them. Now having a reading program for all ages would be great and especially for children to keep their literacy skills up during the summer break...its all good! :)

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      @youthministry: That book was amazing! So funny and so true. Thanks for reminding me how much I enjoyed it--I added a spotlight module so more people will discover this gem of a book. I will recommend it to high schoolers this summer.

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 4 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      Our church does not have library but we are planning to put in a book store and start a book club. I have read My Imaginary Jesus and it was a blast.