Summer Reading Tips and Tricks

In a few short weeks the school year will end and the lazy, hazy days of summer begin. Remember to take time this summer to encourage children to continue reading and learning. The summer slide in cognitive ability is real, and now more than ever we need to try and continue to stimulate the minds of children. There are many ways to do this; encourage reading of all kinds (print books, e-books , audio books, graphic novels, manga, anime, and even comic books), talk to children when doing everyday tasks (cooking, grocery shopping, house cleaning, and even screen time), and, finally, go to the library, museums, parks, and the many free events that happen during the summer months.

Logo for E-read Texas for Kids

One great resource for summer reading is E-Read Texas for Kids. E-Read Texas for Kids includes a collection of more than 600 e-books from Teacher Created Materials, including the TIME for Kids series. The majority of the titles are juvenile nonfiction for grade levels K-8, and cover subjects such as science, mathematics, sports, history, and art, in both English and Spanish. The site also includes juvenile fiction and craft and hobby books for kids. The website is geofenced so that any user located in Texas can access it, with no login nor password required! And there are no simultaneous user restrictions, so that means there are no holds and no waitlists.

Here is a list of other summer reading and learning ideas and resources:

Youth Share and Summer Reading Program Q&A

Let’s put our heads together and share programming ideas, summer logistics, concerns, and any questions you may have about the summer. Together we have years of experience and wisdom to draw from! 

Who: Join youth librarians, staff, and volunteers who provide services to youth in our Texas libraries.

When: Thursday, April 29 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday May 4, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Links to register:

April 29:

May 4:

What to Bring:

  • A question or challenge you have
  • Programming Ideas, including:
    • Favorite storytime book
    • Craft ideas for preschool, elementary or teens
    • Favorite program you have done
    • Passive programs
    • Storytime props, felt board activities, song or fingerplay
    • A puppet or prop you have never used. We can help you come up with ideas!
    • Teens – programs, youth volunteers, tips on getting teens involved…
  • Resources
    • Fundraising ideas
    • SRP logistics
    • A link, website, app, or other useful resource
    • Library Facebook Page, YouTube Channel…

We will be compiling your shared ideas and questions. Please take a moment to send your ideas, summer plans, links, and questions. If every library sends just one thing, we will all benefit!

These Youth Shares are offered in partnership with CTLS, Inc.

Celebrating #TXBookChat Author Don Tate

In honor of Black History Month, we would like to continue the celebrations by recognizing the incredible work of author and illustrator Don Tate, one of our #TXBookChat spotlight authors. In his prolific career, Don has authored one book illustrated by someone else, authored-illustrated three published books (with two more on the way), and illustrated 80+ trade and educational picture books. Through his work, Don showcases narratives from Black history.

His words and illustrations provide children the opportunities to view history from a Black artists’ perspective, which is incredibly important when we consider the lack of representation in children’s literature. Don believes in the importance of telling children the truth and not sugar-coating history. His extensive research and incredible talent pair together to provide literary treasures.

We will highlight a handful of his powerful titles and encourage readers to check out the full list of his publications on his website:

Book cover of William Still and His Freedom Stories: Father of the Underground Railroad

William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad, collected the stories of thousands of other freedom seekers and reunited many formerly enslaved families, while building a remarkable collection of records. He worked with Harriet Tubman, Henry “Box” Brown, William and Ellen Craft, and many other key figures of the abolitionist movement from his base in Philadelphia.

Book cover of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton

George Moses Horton taught himself to read and earned money to purchase his time away from his master, though not his freedom. He became the first African American to be published in the South, protesting slavery in the form of verse.

Book cover of It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

A biography of outsider artist Bill Traylor, a formerly enslaved Alabama man who at the age of 83 began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life.

Book cover of No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and his Kingdom in Kansas

An incredible, true story of how one of history’s most successful potato farmers began life enslaved, purchased farmland after emancipation, and worked until he was named the “Potato King of the World”!

Book cover of Hope's Gift

A poignant story celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Watch the recording of Don’s recent #TXBookChat discussion here!

Summer Reading Webinars in March

We all need inspiration as we gear up for summer reading program planning. Here’s your chance to get renewed and refreshed!

Central Texas Library System (CTLS) and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) are teaming up to offer four summer reading webinars in March.

All webinars will be free of charge, recorded, and archived. 

3/4 Summer Reading Program Boot Camp

Are you new to the Summer Reading Program? We will cover online registration, prizes, SRP manual overview, community engagement, marketing ideas, volunteers, and virtual programming techniques, technology, and tips.

Moderator: Kim Lehman

For more information and to register:

3/9 Preschool Aged Children: Programming Ideas

This webinar will focus on providing programming ideas for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers that can be adapted for both in-person and virtual formats based on best practices from the Round Rock Public Library.  Get ready for the summer with books, stories, songs, fingerplays, crafts, and activities that are perfect for your youngest patrons.

Presenters: Theresa Faris, Jane Dance, Andrea Warkentin, and Virginia Hadley from the Round Rock Public Library.

For more information and to register:

3/10 Elementary Aged Children: Programming Ideas

This webinar will focus on providing program ideas for elementary aged children that can be adapted for both in-person and virtual formats based on best practices from the Victoria Public Library. It will also offer tips and tricks to help engage your community in virtual programming at your library.

Presenter: Katie Talhelm, Victoria Public Library.

For more information and to register:

3/11 Teens: Programming Ideas

This webinar will be focused on providing teen programming ideas that can be adapted for both in-person and virtual formats based on best practices from the McAllen Public Library.

Presenters: Leslie Cortinas-Calderon, Melissa Kobayashi, and April Zuniga, McAllen Public Library.

For more information and to register:

Presenter bios

Kim Lehman is a storyteller, musician, author, and workshop presenter. Kim is a well-known educator best known for her dynamic, idea packed workshops featuring inexpensive, easy to implement ideas for librarians, teachers and parents. Kim has presented over 170 workshops, including many SRP workshops throughout Texas, Kansas, and Arizona. Kim’s background as a youth consultant, a teacher, and a professional storyteller on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster makes her uniquely able to understand and know what librarians want and need.

Round Rock Public Library holds a long tradition of serving their youngest patrons and their families with quality collections, programs and services. Theresa Faris, the Youth Services Manager, leads a creative, dynamic staff who are passionate about early literacy. Youth Librarians Jane Dance and Andrea Warkentin provide storytimes for preschoolers and toddlers respectively. Jane is well known as the library’s teen librarian but is also devoted to her preschool fans. She loves to incorporate yoga and movement into her programs, which keeps everyone engaged. Andrea creates STEM and play experiences with toddlers and shares her expertise with parents as well as with the Round Rock School District, who has created an early childhood initiative to train local daycare providers. Another talented staff member, Virginia Hadley, Library Program Coordinator, provides programs for babies as well as facilitates bilingual programs for preschoolers. She uses her Spanish language skills to incorporate songs and activities into her own bilingual programs and develops partnerships with volunteers and area organizations to provide bilingual and cultural celebrations in Hindi, Chinese, and American Sign Language. During the COVID pandemic, these staff members have pivoted from in-person programs to creating quality online videos and other tools to engage families. 

Katie Talhelm is the Program Services Manager at the Victoria Public Library and oversees all programming for children and teens. She has been in her role for over two years and recently graduated from Texas Woman’s University with her Masters in Library Science, focusing on youth services and public libraries. Katie is eager to make her mark on the library field and find new and inventive ways to engage the youth of her community. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her husband and two cats, Ripley and Chelsea.

Leslie Cortinas-Calderon is a Teen Services Assistant at McAllen Public Library located in the Rio Grande Valley.  She’s had two phenomenal years working hand in hand with other teen staff in creating an inclusive safe space for teens in 6th-12th grade. Her main focus in the Teen Services Department is celebrating cultural diversity in programming, forming friendships with neighboring libraries and schools, promoting library resources in community outreaches, and designing quality programs to enhance teen social skills. Leslie enjoys Animal Crossing, rubbing her cat’s belly, and playing tug o’ war with her pug, Danny DeVito. She also enjoys hiking and spending time with her wife, 2 cats, 3 dogs, AND crying over the saddest books she can get her hands on.

Melissa Kobayashi is the Teen Services Assistant at McAllen Public Library and oversees youth programming for teens 6th – 12th grade. She has been a Teen Services Assistant for 3 years with a background in graphic design. Her designs for the South Texas Book Festival have garnered the 2019 TLA Branding Iron Award for the Rebranding of STBF and the 2020 Texas Festival & Events Association’s (TFEA) Gold in the Best Company Image division for the Kaliff Marketing Awards. Her main focus in the teen department is to encourage and foster leadership skills, connecting and engaging teens with similar interests and hobbies, and promoting technology. Melissa enjoys reading manga and comics, playing video games, and playing frisbee with her dog, Harley P. Quinn.

April Zuniga is the Teen Services Supervisor at McAllen Public Library. Her work focuses on building community with teens in the Rio Grande Valley and providing a safe and friendly environment where they can be creative and share their talents and skills in a collaborative space. April has also been a guest webinar speaker for YALSA. Her webinar “Youth Engagement and Leadership” encourages librarians across the country to empower teens in their communities by providing leadership opportunities in the form of teen-led programming. April enjoys watching movies, evening walks, and spending time with her family, 5 chickens, and her cat, Rocco.

Rural Library Summit: Accelerating 3rd-Grade Reading Outcomes in Rural Places – Tomorrow

Passing on information about an online summit hosted by Berea College and funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. The summit is free, but attendees must register.

The Rural Library Summit on December 10 is a half-day celebration of the impact libraries have on the aspirations of young people and a recognition of their contribution to third grade reading outcomes, especially for students in rural communities.

Research has shown that children who read on or above grade level in third grade triple their chances of attending college. The Summit will explore how libraries can grow their impact on third grade reading leveraging community support and resources.

Participants will learn about and connect with a range of opportunities with regional and national organizations, including the newly launched Rural Library Fellowship. The program will support the efforts of 22 Fellows to engage in initiatives to increase third grade reading in their communities.

For more information and to register:

If you have questions, contact Katie Basham at or (859) 302-0583.

TeenTober Interview with Bastrop Public Library’s Young Adult Librarian

YALSA TeenTober graphic logo. What will you discover at the library? Visit
YALSA’s TeenTober is an initiative that aims to celebrate teens and promote year-round teen services.

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)has recently created #TeenTober, a teen initiative that aims to celebrate teens and promote year-round teen services. We would like to celebrate #TeenTober by highlighting Bastrop Public Library’s Young Adult Librarian, Bethany Dietrich.

Photo of Bethany Dietrich, the Young Adult Librarian at Bastrop Public Library in Bastrop, Texas.

Meet Bethany Dietrich!
Bethany Dietrich is the Young Adult Librarian at Bastrop Public Library in Bastrop, Texas, where she wears many hats: adult and YA collections, teen programming, social media manager, and more. She contributes on NoveList and is a new blogger for Teens Services Underground. She loves spreadsheets and spends too much time reading according to others and the perfect amount according to herself.

How did you become a young adult librarian? Did you always know you wanted to be a young adult librarian?

I wanted to be a librarian when I was a fourth-grader, which was right before Y2K. I remember my dad saying, “No, don’t be a librarian. Technology and the internet are going to make libraries obsolete.” I was like, “Okay, you’re a smart guy. You know what you’re talking about.” So, I kind of abandoned that idea, and I went into teaching because I knew there would always be a need for teachers. I taught 10th grade English for three years, and then I went out to Washington state, and I ran a church camp for a year and a half. That’s where I honed my programming skills, which required me to think outside of the box, and design for what people want while working within parameters like safety, financial issues, and time constraints. When I lived at the camp, I didn’t have the internet at my house, so I would go into town and use the internet at the library. That experience gave me the opportunity to see what libraries in the 21st century look like and how they had changed and adapted. During that time, I saw a career therapist who helped me figure out what I needed to be fulfilled in a job. We narrowed down all the options with her help, and I decided I would go to graduate school to become a librarian. I went to the University of North Texas got my masters, and after that, I got a job in Bastrop as the Young Adult librarian.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, how did you develop your young adult programming? Were you responding to any community needs?

Pre-COVID, my program met weekly, and we still meet weekly during COVID. I’m a really big believer in giving people what they want, and not being shy about asking them what they want. I tried developing a teen advisory board, and that was a big bust. The teens who were semi-interested in being involved with the teen advisory board were typically volunteers and were not the teens coming to my weekly program. I’ve been cultivating and coaching regular teens on how to provide helpful programming recommendations to me. My teens generally walk over from the high school after school on Thursdays, and that would give us a little bit of an awkward time because some people are here, some people aren’t here yet, some people are here ready to get going.

Photo of teens at the Bastrop Public Library creating Mug Meals.
In February, teens at the Bastrop Public Library created “Mug Meals” and learned how to feed themselves using just a few ingredients.

I had to figure out what to do to fill this awkward time. Often, we would watch YouTube videos, which helped inform me of what they’re watching on YouTube. I found that what they’re watching on YouTube is not what I’m watching on YouTube. I’m like, “Yay Vlogbrothers,” and they’re like, “yeah, check out this Minecraft dude.” After a while, they started to show me things like The Try Guys from BuzzFeed, and they would show me videos where they would ask each other trivia questions, and if they got it wrong, they would smash a disgusting balloon full of disgusting stuff. They started to ask if they could do similar activities in the library. I was like, “Well, I really liked this idea, but no, we can’t fill balloons with hot sauce, because that’s dangerous, but we could fill it with ketchup.” I started to coach my teens and helped them identify things that we could do safely, that was within our budget, and within our time constraints. In the beginning, they would show me YouTube videos, and then I would talk it through with them, and now I’ve coached them to email me the YouTube videos and their recommendations on how to adjust to fit our needs. Now during COVID, they have been sending me TikTok videos.

COVID has shifted how many of us work today, how has the pandemic impacted your work? What has been the most challenging thing that you have faced?

We switched over to Discord pretty early and have been meeting virtually since early April. It was slow going at first because my kids are not on social media. When I asked how they heard about our Discord server, they would say, “I heard from someone’s mom” or “I saw it on Facebook,” and then eventually, kids were texting their friends. That was how we were able to spread the word about Discord. We still don’t have a ton of people; I probably average four to six kids every week. Since school started and they’re allowed to go in-person, my participation numbers have continued to drop. In fact, I’ve had zero the past three weeks. They don’t want to hang online because they can (finally!) hang out with each other in-person, even if they can’t do it at the library in a library program. That said, there is still some asynchronous participation in the text channels. I’ll keep showing up at our regular time, and I’ll be ready for them when they’re ready to come back. We mostly play games and talk.

Photo of teen creating a hokey stick using recycled cardboard.
In January during Teen Thursdays at the Bastrop Public Library, teens created the hockey sticks using recycled cardboard to play Balloon Hockey.

Challenges are seeing my kids feeling the pinch to their mental health. I want to support mental health wellness, but I’m not a trained person in that regard. I have the Mental Health First Aid certification, but I’m by no means an expert. I’ve seen several therapists and feel more comfortable than many other people talking about it, but I don’t want to tell the kid the wrong thing. The legality of mental health work does make me cautious. I’ve been participating in a School Library Journal and University of Maryland iSchool co-design study, which is based on how teen librarians and libraries, in general, can help support public services and helping their communities. I’ve been toying around with how I can implement more of that into my virtual programming. However, because of the pull on my time from doing curbside, and all these other circulation duties that I don’t usually have, it’s been tough to find the time and the energy that I would like to spend on doing that.

Photo of teens playing balloon hockey.
Teens playing Balloon Hockey at the Bastrop Public Library using balloons as a hockey pucks and teen made recycled cardboard hockey sticks.

Were you using Discord before the pandemic and was there a steep learning curve?

Somebody posted about Discord in one of the Facebook groups that I’m on, and I knew my brother had been using Discord for years. I worked with him and let him know about all the security and privacy things that I needed, and he helped me set it up. It was because of that first person who posted it in one of my Facebook groups that helped me think that I could do it. I’m very careful about who I allow to join our server. I do post the invite links on our teen Instagram, but as I said, not many of our teens are on our Instagram. It’s mostly other teen librarians who follow us. I don’t put any hashtags and don’t use geotags. To get into the server, you have to be following us to see that post. I also posted it on Facebook a couple of times, but again, our community is small. I ask some screening questions and privately chat with the person if I haven’t directly invited them or talked to them about joining it. My first Teen Services Underground (TSU) article was how to set-up up a Discord server.

With so much uncertainty about the fall, how do you plan to approach your programming, and do you have any upcoming programs you would like to highlight?

I am just swamped with all my other responsibilities. We are a small library, and I wear many hats other than just teen programming and teen collection development. I do all the adult collection development and social media managing, as well as a few other things. I don’t have the capacity to really put together any sort of programming other than Jackbox games. I have trivia in my back pocket that I pull out when Jackbox goes down, which happened once. Since we did Jackbox games all summer, they’ve gotten pretty tired of it. Three weeks ago, one of my teens suggested the popular app Among Us, so we’ll play that the next time enough participants attend unless something else has caught their eye by then.

I would like to do more along the lines of what I’m learning in the School Library Journal and the University of Maryland iSchool study. I read an article that talked about some ways to support teens’ mental health and talked about using a gratitude wall. I did add a new text channel in our Discord and put a challenge out to everybody to tell one thing that they’re happy about, or that made them happy that day or grateful for, and then to continue posting something every day. Hopefully, even if it’s just that little bit of positivity, that will have a larger effect on them. My teens also asked for an Art Stuff channel, where they post what they’ve drawn/created. It is way more popular than the Happy Stuff channel, but we do get several posts a week in Happy Stuff. Whether they’re posting in Happy Stuff, Art Stuff, or the general chat channel, I love seeing them being supportive of one another.

Logo from YALSA's TeenTober. What will you discover at the library?
To learn more about TeenTober, visit YALSA’s TeenTober’s webpage at

Thank you, Bethany, for sharing your story and your work with us. Although this year might look a little different, libraries across Texas and the US are celebrating #TeenTober by highlighting their teen collection and programming. To learn more, visit YALSA’s TeenTober’s webpage at How is your library celebrating #TeenTober? Share in the comment sections.

Virtual Storytime Resources

We have received many questions regarding best practices when conducting virtual storytimes. While we cannot provide legal advice, we have curated a few virtual storytime resources for libraries’ ease of access.

Getting Started with Virtual Storytimes (WebJunction): An archived webinar presented by Renee Grassi, Youth Services Manager, Dakota County Library (MN)

Jbrary: Storytime Online Resources: Created by Lindsey Krabbenhoft and Dana Horrocks, two children’s librarians, this site features YouTube  playlists and a compilation of online storytime resources.

Online StoryTime & Coronavirus (Programming Librarian): This post from the Programming Librarian was posted by ALA’s Public Program’s Office. This should not be taken as legal advice, but may offer one perspective.

Public Libraries Accreditation and Statistics: This page from the Texas State Library will offer up to date information on accreditation and statistics.

School Library Journal’s COVID-19 Publisher Information Directory: This resource outlines permissions granted during COVID-19 by publisher; please check dates of availability in the listing, as they are updated periodically.

Virtual Storytime and Copyright: Resources: A blog post from the Texas State Library on copyright resources regarding virtual storytime.

Virtual Storytime Resources Guide (Association for LIbrary Services to Children): This guide was developed by the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL), the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), and others.

Program Statistics for the Texas Public Libraries Annual Report

Definition of Library Program: A program is any planned event which introduces the group attending to any of the activities or which directly provides information to participants. Programs may cover use of the library, library services, or library tours. Programs may also provide cultural, recreational, or educational information, often designed to meet a specific social need. Examples of these types of programs include film showings, lectures, story hours, literacy, English as a second language, citizenship classes, and book discussions.
Counting Programs and Attendance: Live virtual programming that meets the definition of programs can be reported in total number of library programs, number of children’s programs, number of young adult programs and number of adult programs; as well as related total. For attendance, report unique or peak views.  
If you have other questions about how or what to report, contact State Data Coordinator Valicia Greenwood at

Youth Services Reading Lists and Resources: Racial Equity and Inclusion

In response to requests from libraries looking for resources and reading materials regarding racism, equity and inclusion, here are a few curated lists including resources for families and youth librarians to help get your library started.

2020 COVID-19 Anti-Asian Racism Resources (Sarah Park Dahlen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Master of Library and Information Science Program at St. Catherine University)

Anti-Racism Reading Lists and Resources (Oklahoma Department of Libraries)

Black Joy Booklist for Children and Young Adults (The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

Booklists and Resources Addressing Race and Social Justice (Vermont State Library)

Cooke, N. A. (2020, May 30). Anti-Racism Resources for all ages. [A project of the Augusta Baker Endowed Chair at the University of South Carolina].

Diverse Book Finder (sponsored by Bates/IMLS)

Generations Book Club: Community and Culture (The Brown Bookshelf)

Race and Racism: Selected Books for PreK-Grade 12 (Cooperative Children’s Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Recommended reading about racism in the United States (Texas Book Festival)

Resource and Book list from Embrace Race

Social Justice Books (Teaching for Change)

We are Kid Lit Collective

Where to Find Diverse Books (We Need Diverse Books)

Has your library developed a reading list or resource? Let us know!