Customer Spotlight: Summer Reading at Downers Grove Public Library

We love hearing from customers who are doing amazing, world-changing things. We recently spoke with Sharon Hrycewicz at the Downers Grove Public Library near Chicago about their efforts to encourage children to read over the summer.


1. Can you please tell us a little bit about your library and your role?

The Downers Grove Public Library is in suburban Chicago. Downers Grove residents love their library. It’s a destination for the residents of Downers Grove as well as surrounding communities. This summer we expect to serve over 2000 children from infants to eighth graders. I’ve worked at the Downers Grove Library for more than 20 years in the Kids Room.


2. What is your theme for summer reading? How does your summer reading program work?

Our summer reading club theme is Reading Takes You Everywhere. We work hard to get kids excited about coming to the library and decorate the department to drum up enthusiasm.

Grade school kids read six hours or six books for each prize level. One of those prizes is the Alien Putty from Geddes. Preschoolers have 10 books read to them for each prize level. Both clubs receive 3 prizes and then can read for bonus prizes if they so chose.


3. Why is developing a love for reading so important?

Our summer reading theme says it all, “Reading Takes You Everywhere”. As a lifelong reader, I have a skill that will entertain me, inform me, and allow me to keep current with cultural events close to home or in far off lands.

I just finished reading the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan (soon to be a movie) and I learned more about the country of Singapore, its history and geography, than I’ve ever known. I connected with the characters in the story and was invested in their lives. Good fiction allows the reader to empathize with others.


4. Generally, how do you think we as a society can encourage young students to read more?

Let kids read what they want. Getting kids engaged in the pleasure of reading is allowing them to read the materials that interest them. Putting limits on materials like page numbers only frustrates young readers and turns reading into work.


5. What are some books you'd recommend for young students to read this summer?

Recommending books is the best part of my job! (the hyperlinks will take you to a massive online library catalog….add your zip code and you can see if your local library has it on the shelf!)

For kids entering in first and second grade:

For kids entering third and fourth grade:

For kids entering fifth and sixth grade:

For kids entering seventh and eighth grade: