Open a book: Public library program gets kids reading

bright spotCopyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Public Library system has a simple and fun way to avoid the notorious summer brain drain.

Read books.

The library system, which has 18 branches, with another set to open this summer in the International District, is kicking off its summer reading program Saturdays with special events featuring family-friendly entertainment, including games, crafts, and other activities.

“Many studies have shown that young people who are exposed to reading or enrichment activities are better able to retain the learning they’ve done during the school year, build on that so their brains are in better shape to continue learning in the fall,” said Deborah Hassi, youth services manager for the public library system. “And at the public library, we want to enable these young people, as well as their families, to learn, grow and have fun all summer long.”

To register for the eight-week program, kids can sign up in person at library branches or online starting Saturday at Participants set their own reading challenges in terms of how much time they spend reading. When they meet those weekly challenges they can earn incentive prizes, including toys and books for babies, children, tweens, and teens, as well as grand prizes for all.

While schools might give students summer reading lists, the library’s summer reading program has no such guidelines.

“We encourage everyone to read something that’s at least as challenging as what they read during the school year, but we put zero restrictions on what anyone can read,” said Hassi, noting the theme of this summer’s program is “Oceans of Possibilities.”

“They can read whatever they like, wherever they like and whenever they like. Maybe there was something that they wanted to read during the school year, but didn’t have time, or maybe they wanted to read fiction or nonfiction, graphic novels, newspapers or magazines. The important thing is for them to use those brain cells and read whatever suits their fancy.”

And much of that reading material that suits their fancy is likely available at local library branches, Hassi said.

“This is an opportunity for everyone in the community, not just kids, but adults as well, to set personal reading challenges for themselves,” she said.

In addition, library branches this summer will host a variety of events, for tweens, teens and adults, including crafts, science activities, concerts and movies. The schedule of events will be posted at library branches and online at, Hassi said.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the summer reading program had nearly 19,000 participants, and the library system saw more than 2 million visitors while managing the circulation of more than 4 million items.

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