Read your way through 'the great outdoors' this summer

Summer is just around the corner, and what goes hand-in-hand with picnics, beaches and parks? A good book, or—for many of Heights Libraries’ summer reading program participants—lots of them.

This year, Heights Libraries is encouraging literacy and exploration with “The Great Outdoors,” a brand new summer reading theme, and will kick off the summer with exciting reading challenges and literacy-rich activities for participants of all ages.

From June 1 through Aug. 9, for every book they read, adults will be invited to drop an entry into a ballot box at a library branch for the chance to win weekly gift bags and a grand prize at the end of the summer. Grand prizes include a Fitbit Inspire heart rate and fitness tracker, an Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet, and a Roku Premiere streaming media player.

Adults can further embrace this year’s theme by joining a group discussion of nature-themed classics, such as Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, at the Lee Road branch; participating in seed saving with the Cleveland Seed Bank at the Coventry Village branch; and testing out their nature knowledge at a “great outdoors” trivia night at Christopher’s Pub.

“We hope adults will find this to be a fun incentive to find time to read this summer, and maybe take a book with them on their way to a park or the beach," said Chuck Collins, adult services manager. “Some parents find it easier to get their kids to do their summer reading if mom or dad are reading at the same time.”

Children and teens are also encouraged to exercise their literacy skills while participating in their own version of the summer reading program. According to the American Library Association, summer reading programs play an integral role in ensuring that children retain reading and learning skills over the summer recess.

Throughout the summer, young people will be invited to join library staff in celebrating the natural world through free programs about gardening, bicycle maintenance, and outdoor survival. They’ll also have a chance to meet a naturalist from the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes.

“With this theme we wanted to design a fun reading program that also encourages participants to get out and explore—whether it’s a local park or just their own backyard and neighborhood,” said Sam Lapides, youth services manager.

Children and teens will be invited to read books, update reading logs, and complete activities to earn raffle tickets to enter to win a wide array of prizes. Thirty days of reading are needed to officially complete the program, but participants are encouraged to fill out additional reading logs after they’ve completed the first.

The program will also offer bonus raffle tickets for participants who complete simple activities, such as drawing a picture outside, reading a book under a tree, or painting a rock and leaving it outside for someone else to find.

Prizes vary by age group and include an annual membership to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for preschoolers, a one-of-a-kind outdoor fun bundle for elementary-school-age kids, and Cedar Point tickets for teens.

“We hope this year’s program is a ‘down to earth’ way to spend the summer," said Lapides. "We’d love to see kids enjoy as much time outside as possible and maybe even discover the joys of reading outside, too!”

To learn about more Great Outdoors programs, visit any Heights Libraries branch, or go to

Isabelle Rew

Isabelle Rew is the community engagement associate for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 12:54 PM, 05.01.2019