According to public relations manager Heather Williams, Arbordale created a webpage featuring themes for each summer month with suggested titles and simple scavenger hunts, crafts, and other activities. She says the activities are designed for “librarians, summer-program managers, and parents to do with kids, and many of them encourage families to explore the outdoors and nature.” The themes are as follows:
June: Dive In (water-, ocean-, and beach-related books and activities); July: Let’s Go to the Zoo (zoo books with animal-related activities); August: Out of this World (the solar system and stargazing).
Arbordale’s newsletters to educators and librarians will spotlight the summer-reading features, which will also appear on the publisher’s homepage. All activities will be promoted via social media as well.
Audiofile’s Audiobooks for Teens Program
Since summer 2010, Audiofile has sponsored SYNC, a free audiobook-download program for teen listeners (ages 13 and up) during the summer months. Titles are donated by a number of audiobook publishers and offered for download via the OverDrive app. Each week between May 5 and August 17, listeners can download a pair of thematically linked YA titles, often one classic and one contemporary, and keep the recordings as long as they like. In 2016 the program expanded to 15 weeks (up from 14 in 2015) and started earlier in May so that more schools could get involved before summer break. This year’s title selections include Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, read by Nicholas Robideau and the Full Cast Family (Full Cast Audio), paired with Donny’s Brain by Rona Munro, performed by a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works), offered June 23–29; and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (Listening Library) teamed up with Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Listening Library), offered June 30–July 6. According to SYNC manager and Audiofile publisher Michele Cobb, “SYNC continues to grow and attract new listeners who stick with the format outside of the program; 96% of respondents to our 2015 new listener survey said they would be listening more.” In total, during the summer of 2015, SYNC gave away more than 129,000 downloads to 41,000 participants. And so far this year, the program is on pace to do even better. “Our first week of downloads for 2016 shattered previous records, and we have continued to see growth over last year each week,” Cobb says. More information about titles and technical help can be found at audiobooksync.com.
“In anticipation of summer reading, we’ve created a sell sheet of our key summer reading titles that’s available in Edelweiss and also used in our social media promotions,” says book marketing manager Kerry McManus. “Speaking of social media, our engagement with teachers and librarians on Twitter and Facebook is absolutely not limited to just the school year—in fact, it strongly continues during the summer, when the teachers and librarians presumably have more time to read and plan for the year ahead.”
McManus cites an event from 2015 that typifies the kind of author appearance opportunity she looks for to tie in with the company’s summer-reading promotions. “Christine Pakkala [author of the Last-But-Not-Lola series] was the special guest at the summer reading kick-off party at the Stratford [Ct.] Public Library last year,” she says. “Christine met and presented to the kids in the Stratford summer-reading program, and the library facilitated a fun event/craft that related to the Lola series.”
“This is an especially exciting summer-reading summer for Candlewick, as two-time Newbery Medal winner and U.S. National Ambassador for Children’s Literature emerita Kate DiCamillo reprises her role as the Collaborative Summer Library Program National Summer Reading Champion for a second year,” says Phoebe Kosman, assistant director of marketing, publicity, and events. She adds that literacy nonprofit organization First Book, to which Candlewick is donating more than 275,000 books in 2016, is featuring an interview about DiCamillo’s CSLP role on its website, further spreading the word about the importance of summer reading.
Other efforts include summer-reading suggestions in the June issue of the Candlewick Classroom e-mail newsletter as well as on Candlewick Classroom’s Pinterest board, and via the Candlewick Classroom Twitter account (@CandlewickClass). “We are also reaching out to state reading associations and to the Nerdcamp education ‘unconferences’ with materials and information about summer-reading books,” Kosman adds.
Lee & Low
Lee & Low champions summer reading through its core mission of publishing contemporary diverse stories. “Through social media outreach, blog posts, and panel conversations, we try to encourage parents, teachers, and students to look at their summer reading lists with a critical eye and to speak up for more diversity when it’s missing,” says director of marketing and publicity Hannah Ehrlich. “Historically, summer-reading lists have often stayed the same year after year, filled with bestsellers and classics that don’t always reflect today’s students. We try to offer high-quality alternatives that parents or teachers can easily use to diversify their lists.” Lists of suggested reads for grades K–8 compiled by the company’s literacy specialists are featured on the Lee & Low website.
“We were excited about this year’s summer-reading themes [from the Collaborative Summer Library Program] focusing on wellness, fitness, and sports, because we offer so many great books related to those themes,” says Jill Braithwaite, group marketing director at Lerner Publishing Group. Her team created two extensive book lists, one for grades pre-K–5 and one for grades 6–12, “to help librarians and teachers get easy access to great books for summer-reading programs.”
For each collection, Lerner created a free downloadable poster incorporating the CSLP themes “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” and “Get in the Game: Read,” showcasing art and thumbnail book jackets from Lerner titles. On the back of the posters, educators and parents will find all the titles and ordering information.
“To get the word out about our summer-reading collections, we sent a promotional e-blast in April to thousands of school and public librarians,” Braithwaite says. “At the Public Library Association conference in April, we gave away printed posters, which work as fun displays and also as tools for ordering the books. In addition, our sales reps promote our summer-reading collections with the educators they meet with. Reps are well positioned to help librarians and teachers find just the right titles that will circulate well in their summer reading programs.”
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
At Little, Brown, “We created a ‘Dog-Eared Days of Summer’ title-suggestion list for the 2016 summer reading season, which has been recommended on our social media channels and through advertising in trade outlets,” says executive director of school and library marketing Victoria Stapleton. “Our focus is on high-quality middle grade offerings that catch young readers in that integral time frame between school years, a time when lifelong readers can be created with the right books. We have something for every reader: humor in Geoff Rodkey’s The Tapper Twins Go to War, nonfiction history with Guts & Glory: The American Civil War, and much more.”
Rachel K. Benoit, director of marketing for nonfiction publisher Nomad Press, says, “During the months of May and June, we publish a series of free e-books that are designed to help prevent the infamous summer slide. Our e-books contain activities that are based on engineering design principles or the scientific method and are completely kid-focused, so readers can easily accomplish the projects using household materials with very little adult guidance.” Each of the free e-books contains lists of related books for summer reading, as well as websites containing coding opportunities, geography research, science activities, and social studies games.
In addition to powering the SYNC audiobook giveaway from Audiofile (see above), digital-distribution platform OverDrive is teaming up with 1,700 schools in 50 states and six Canadian provinces for OverDrive Summer Read, a free e-book promotion to encourage summer reading. Throughout the month of June, students from participating schools can borrow e-books free of charge from a collection of four children’s titles and four young adult titles using the OverDrive app. The juvenile titles include Justice and Her Brothers by Virginia Hamilton, about siblings with supernatural powers, and Green vs. Mean, a read-along title featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Among the middle grade and young adult selections are the Spy Goddess series by Michael Spradlin, featuring streetwise Rachel, a new student at spy-training school Blackthorn Academy, and The New Wild by Holly Brasher, in which Julie and Xander are among the few survivors of a devastating wildfire that has destroyed much of the country. “We wanted to appeal to all different types of readers to help them keep reading and continue to improve their skills over the summer,” says Hadie Bartholomew, communications director for OverDrive.