Summer Reading Participation by Children & Teens Sets Record at Kansas City Public Library

For Immediate Release:
October 4, 2011
Contact: Paul Smith
816.701.3668
Summer Reading Participation by Children & Teens Sets Record at Kansas City Public Library

Total participation in the Kansas City Public Library's 2011 Summer Reading Program exceeded more than 25,000 for this annual reading initiative that focuses on children and teens. More than 5,000 children completed the program, which recorded a completion rate of 53 percent - the first time this statistic has topped 50 percent. Overall youth participation (for a total of 25,494) increased by nearly 60 percent over the previous year. 

"The success of our latest Summer Reading Program is a major milestone for the Kansas City Public Library and our Building a Community of Readers campaign," said Crosby Kemper III, director of the Library. "We are proud of the service that our librarians provide to help kids continue reading and learning during their summer vacations."

Helma Hawkins, director of Children's Services, reported total participation in the Summer Reading Program at 20,770 for her department: 9,505 children pledged to read at least 12 hours during the summer and the Library received completed Reading Logs from 5,037 children - up from 3,549 completed Reading Logs in 2010. Summer Reading activities for children (totaling 177 events that promoted and encouraged reading) recorded total participation at 11,265.

This success is attributed to the work and enthusiasm of front line staff members as well as an expanded effort from the Library's Outreach Department, which coordinated story times and book deliveries for children across the Kansas City community.

"The results more than met any of our expectations," said Hawkins. "We definitely brought in kids we hadn't reached before thanks to the Outreach program, and we also reached new children inside the Library. The Library is always striving to recruit more readers among Kansas City youth."

The Summer Reading Program component for teen readers took a different path than in prior years, according to Crystal Faris, director of Teen Services. Teen readers were asked to write summary book reviews of their favorite summer reads, which were shared on Facebook and the Library website: this effort resulted in 2,233 submitted book reviews. A wide-range of teen-centric Summer Reading events, for a total of 168, attracted 2,501 Summer Reading attendees.

"We listened to our teen readers," Faris said, "and they told us that they wanted to share their Summer Reading experience online, through Facebook. This new format attracted even more teens, and we more than doubled our participation from last year."

The 2011 Summer Reading Program began on June 1 and ended on August 6.

The 2012 Summer Reading Program will operate under a unique theme for each audience: "Dream Big - Read!" for children, and "Own the Night" for teens.

The Summer Reading Program is a major component of Building a Community of Readers, a three-year campaign to support reading and create a sense of consciousness that Kansas City is a community of readers.

The Building a Community of Readers campaign is funded by a generous grant from the Hall Family Foundation and the Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation and UMB Bank, n.a., Trustee. Additional support for the 2011 Summer Reading Program was provided by the Sosland Foundation.