Reflecting on Summer Reading 2020

As we can say about almost everything in 2020, Summer Reading was different this year! We missed seeing you in the Library, watching our Summer Reading performers, and enjoying the annual block party. However, this year did give us (and you!) the opportunity to focus totally on what Summer Reading is all about: reading books!

People of all ages tracked their reading progress, wrote book reviews, participated in challenges, and won prizes. More than 600 kids signed up for the program, reading over 26,000 books! Adults and teens also participated in their own reading, book reviews, and virtual challenges. Combined, over 200 adults and teens logged almost 1,000 books.

This was the first year that Summer Reading tracking, programs, and challenges were all online. Youth Services Manager Betty Cobb is happy we were able to provide Summer Reading even with the Library’s building closed. She says, “By moving online, we reached people who might not have been able to come to the Library even in the best of circumstances. Hopefully the reading challenges and virtual programs we offered provided an escape for families from the COVID pandemic.”

Our new online portal, called Beanstack, helped make Summer Reading possible this year. Participants have logged their progress online in the past, but with Beanstack we were able to offer literacy challenges and virtual badges to enhance the reading experience. Betty says, “The challenges and badges were great because they gave kids that instant gratification. They came in handy since we couldn’t give prizes for incremental achievements like we normally would.”

Hillary Schmid agrees with Betty. Her two sons, Julian and Elliot, participated in the Children’s Summer Reading, and she signed up for the adult program. She feels that the new online portal enhanced her and her children’s Summer Reading experience. She says, “My oldest son loved being able to track his achievements online, and my youngest loved the prizes. He was incentivized to read because he couldn’t wait to see what goodies he might receive!” Hillary found the new portal simple to navigate and use for her own tracking as well. “It was much easier to find and record titles, and to log reading minutes.”

Even though Summer Reading is over, we’re looking forward to using Beanstack throughout the year. We’ll offer literacy challenges and badges on a regular basis through the online platform to keep kids excited and engaged in reading. So be on the lookout for our next Beanstack challenge, coming mid-September!


We’re still here for you even though our building is temporarily closed! Visit jcpl.org/current-library-services to learn what we’re offering during our this time, and follow Johnson City Public Library on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

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