Summer is here, and that means it’s time for Madison Public Library’s Summer Reading Program! Children ages birth to 14 are encouraged to read throughout the summer to prevent the “summer slide,” or the learning loss that can occur when kids are out of school for an extended period. Research shows that kids who read regularly during the summer have a much better chance at retaining what they learned in the previous school year.

Madison Public Library Youth Services Supervisor Tammy Pineda says that in addition to youth events at all nine Madison Public Library locations and the library’s Dream Bus bookmobile, the library works with families, child care providers and other community partners to incorporate literacy activities into daily activities. Disadvantaged children are particularly vulnerable to learning loss, the library makes a greater effort to reach those who need the most literacy help.

This year’s Summer Reading Program theme is ” Read Like a Badger — A Universe of Stories.” Throughout May, Youth Services librarians visited every elementary school in Madison to promote the Summer Reading Program.

Kids can sign up for the program at their favorite Madison Public Library location, including the Dream Bus, or they can register online at Participants will receive a BINGO card that offers a variety of options for completing the program, including age-appropriate ideas for improving literacy skills over summer break. When children complete the program, they earn a golden ticket to a special end-of-summer celebration called “Choose Your Own Adventure Starring YOU — Comic-Making Party.” This event will take place at many of the libraries and will involve a green screen that allows kids to tell a story, record it and save it to a flash drive. 

There is also a Group Summer Reading Program for larger groups of kids. Signup is available online, and in addition to a BINGO card, participants may also get a visit from a Youth Services librarian during the summer.

The new Dream Bus will be making regular appearances in five Madison neighborhoods, signing up local kids and offering maker programs at those stops as well. View the Dream Bus schedule here.


The Summer Reading Program wraps up the evening of August 6, when the library will host its Read Like a Badger Summer Concert & Picnic at Olbrich Gardens.


Summer Reading Program funding comes from proceeds of Madison Public Library Foundation’s Wizards in Wonderland winter fundraiser, as well as a gift from the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation. Additional support is provided by Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Overture Center for the Arts and the South Central Library System, and in-kind contributions from Madison Parks, the City of Madison Clerk’s Office and Madison Water Utility’s Water Wagon.