Play, Learn, and Read with Your Local Librarians This Summer

Summer Blog Series 2023 – Summer, the Libraries & PLAY #1

“Play, Learn, and Read with Your Local Librarians This Summer”

Across North America, public libraries offer a wide variety of opportunities for all ages to play, learn, and read during the summer months. This blog post features just a few of the events coming up in Summer 2023.

A common theme is that nearly every one of these examples is a community partnership. Public librarians don’t work by themselves. They work with communities to increase access to learning, to play, and to reading. I encourage you to suggest a playful partnership with your local librarians.

On Saturday June 10, 2023, the Charles County (Maryland) Public Library teams up with the Charles County Department Recreation, Parks & Tourism for All Together Now: A Summer Learning Kickoff Party. The event, organized in conjunction with the National Recreation & Park Association’s Family Health & Fitness Day, will feature live music, field games, physical activities for all ages, STEM learning opportunities, and opportunities to sign up the library’s Summer learning challenge.

“Every summer, the library has a summer learning and reading program for the community. This year we wanted to partner with the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism to combine reading and fitness,” stated Kenneth Wayne Thompson, Executive Director of Charles County Public Library.

Checkout some other PLAYful events planned this summer in libraries in Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and even Ontario, Canada:

  • In Michigan, an annual block party returns to downtown East Lansing every Thursday night and East Lansing Public Library’s Library on the Go mobile pop-up library will be there along with giant Connect 4, cornhole, giant Jenga, ping pong, giant chess and more. “It’s just a really nice vibe,” said Brice Bush, with the East Lansing Public Library. “It’s a great opportunity to be in downtown without worrying about traffic because the street is closed and it’s just nice.”
  • In Alabama, Mobile Public Library invites all to join them for a wide variety of activities for all ages including special performances, reading challenges, crafts, games and more. The grand prize for each age group in the summer reading challenge is a bicycle sponsored by Adventure Earth.
  • In Oklahoma, the Miami Public Library ends Summer reading with a pool party. Library director Callie Cortner said, “They fall into that summer slump where they are not really doing much of anything, so we want to keep them reading, so we challenge them, they earn prizes for reading, they earn prizes for attending some of our events, and then at the very end we do a big pool party for everybody that has completed their goals.”
  • In Ontario, Grimsby Public Library holds a Summer Reading Kickoff Party on Saturday, June 3 from 2 to 4 p.m. This fun-filled afternoon features a parkour obstacle course from Play Project Parkour, balloon animals from Halaloo, First Words Workshop, Llama Tutoring, popcorn, face painting, giant board games, an art activity, button-making, seed planting, bubbles and more! There’s something for everyone thanks to an abundance of community partnerships.
  • In Nebraska, Grand Island Public Library kicks off its summer programming on Thursday, May 25. The teen summer learning kicks off with after-hours party set for 7:45 p.m. Monday, June 5, at the library. The library closes and doors lock at 8, but teens ages 11-18 can enjoy laser tag, food and more until 9:30 p.m. No registration is required and, of course, it’s all free!
  • In Ohio, the Wood County District Public Library invites its community to outdoor family playtimes held throughout the months of June and July at Wooster Green. At these events, families can enjoy group games, activities with different community partners each week, dance, listen to music, and more. To sweeten the deal, family playtimes with librarians coincides with the City of Bowling Green’s Food Truck Thursdays.
  • In Wisconsin, dozens of community organizations gathered at Safe and Sound Saturday on May 13 in Milwaukee to help youth get involved in summer programs. The Milwaukee Public Library joined the Milwaukee Police Department, the Milwaukee Health Center, community leaders for a day of dancing, activities, and food focused on connecting youth to opportunities to play and learn during the summer months.
  • In Indiana, a children’s street fair complete with superheroes will kick off the Lebanon Public Library’s summer reading program on June 5. A street block will be closed down to make room for a petting zoo, inflatables, trucks to touch, airbrush tattoos, carnival games, an obstacle course, a special activity for toddlers, a scavenger hunt, prizes, and food, including free shaved ice for children. In addition to connecting with librarians, participants at the library’s block party can meet representatives of area non-profit organizations who will set up booths along the street.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what public librarians have planned for Summer 2023. Join us to play, learn, and read all summer long.

We encourage you to share how you play, learn, and read with your local librarians! Tag @USPlayCoalition or @LetsMoveLibrary on Twitter and other social media to share, or email me at

About the Author: Noah Lenstra, PhD, is Director of Let’s Move in Libraries and associate professor of Library & Information Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Learn more about Noah at and follow him on Twitter at @NoahLenstra.

About the Summer PLAY Blog Series: This summer we are featuring some great PLAY resources with our 2023 Summer PLAY Blog Series, starring invited play partners as our content experts.  PLAY is important no matter what season it is…so NO SUMMER LEARNING LOSS here!  In June, Noah Lenstra, Director of Let’s Move in Libraries, is reprising his Summer, the Libraries & PLAY blog series.  This summer Noah will highlight recent books on the intersection of play and librarianship.