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New York Public Library's Summer Reading Program is Virtual This Year

New York Public Library's Summer Reading Program is Virtual This Year

NYPL provides children with access to digital books, programs, and activities starting today.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has kicked off its summer reading initiative, which includes virtual programs, reading challenges, and activities for NYC school children, teens and their families. This year’s theme is Quest for Adventure, in an effort to encourage kids to read fantastic tales, find inspiring heroes and realize the power of telling their own epic stories.

While the summer programming is typically help at the physical locations, they are temporarily closed this summer to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, the summer reading initiative will be primarily virtual and accessible via

The NYPL is supporting NYC’s school children during summer vacation, providing engaging, fun, and educational activities to help combat “summer slide,” or the loss of prior learning while out of school over the summer.

“For the kids and families of New York City, this summer is going to look quite different than any other in recent memory. It is more important than ever for the city's libraries to support these families and offer programming, book recommendations, and more to keep kids engaged and learning outside the classroom (or their home schools),” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx in a press release. “This has not been an easy year for anyone, especially our kids and teens, who have had their worlds turned upside down. If we can provide them and their families an escape via books and activities that also happen to support their education, then we are doing our jobs this summer.”

The programming for Summer Reading will launch virtually this Saturday, June 13 with an author reading by Tracey Baptiste, author of The Jumbies, a musical performance of The Music, Bubble and Comedy Show: Myths, Legends and Folktales with Turtle Dance Music, and a bilingual story time for the whole family led by actress and storyteller Flor Bromley.    

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The virtual summer camps will run from June 29-Aug. 7, featuring online book discussions led by branch staff on Monday’s. NYPL will also host weekly online author talks and twice-weekly virtual programs, featuring performers and educators.

Books are also available for kids to browse and borrow digitally via the Library’s catalog and its e-reader app SimplyE (available in iOS and Android). New Yorkers can use the app to apply for online library cards, if needed. Earlier this spring, the library worked with the Department of Education to include the SimplyE app on all iPads given to students, ensuring they have access to independent reading materials. 

In addition to robust digital offerings, the library is planning to distribute kits with physical books, stickers, and activities to kids in high-needs neighborhoods who may not have adequate Internet connectivity or devices. The library is working with elected officials, community organizations, and others to determine how to safely distribute the books.

“As this public health crisis moves into the summer months, we take seriously our role of supporting these families outside of the classroom—whatever classroom means—including and especially those without access to technology,” said Brian Bannon, the library’s chief librarian and the Merryl and James Tisch Director of Branch Libraries and Education. “We will continue to evaluate this situation to best serve these families, and ensure that the library is making resources accessible to all.”

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The annual initiative is supported by The New York Life Foundation, HSBC Bank, WarnerMedia, Sesame Street, and The New York Yankees.

Families should stay tuned to the Summer Reading webpage for more information on accessing physical materials later this summer.

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Sophia Martini

Author: Sophia Martini, a former intern of NYMetroParents, is a senior at Syracuse University. She is a true citizen of the world, as she has traveled to five continents, lived in Madrid, and has friends throughout the globe. During her free time, you will find her in the sun, dancing, and sipping some of her favorite rosé. See More

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