Having said that, I was just on the local public library website to look for some books, and found myself excited by the summer reading program information. I started planning when I would sign my boys up and how we would keep track of their reading. Partly, I found myself excited because I love order and keeping track of things. The first thing I do when I finish a book is mark it as read on GoodReads. I track my mileage running and biking, and have kept meticulous notes of milestones as my children reached each and every one. The summer reading program is just one more way to track and measure and compare. The librarian and the researcher in me loves it. And this year, the summer reading program is super hero themed, which makes me even more excited.
Not every kid is so lucky. They don't have books to read. Or ways to get to the library. Or maybe they are with a sitter or in day care all day and can't go collect their prizes. Or their internet or computer access is limited or non-existent. The children who have these problems are often the same ones who are most in need of summer reading programs to keep from losing literacy skills over the summer.
I was happy to come across this blog post from the Association for Library Service to Children on how to make summer reading programs more inclusive. They have fabulous ideas for making summer reading programs work for kids with special needs, such as paying attention to all of your reading formats available, whether large print books, audio books, or books in braille. They also recommended more tactile books or building in sensory experiences in the programming. I think these ideas are great. The one I like the most though is having your information and program materials available through the mail as well as in person or online. This won't solve every problem, but it does address some of the issues of lower income children.
I will keep looking for more ideas for summer reading programming that helps all of our kids, but especially our kids with the greatest needs. I would love to hear what has worked for the rest of you too - add it to the comments!