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Despite the pandemic, Boulder Public Library’s summer reading program is a go.

So many summer standbys have been postponed or canceled all together, but you can’t count Boulder Public Library’s Summer of Discovery reading program out. The page turning must go on!

COVID-19 forced the library system, like so many other organizations, to pivot during the staff’s two busiest months of planning for the summer reading program. Last year, the Summer of Discovery program reached more than 5,000 people. In 2020, Boulder Public Library is trading in the majority of its paper book logs (you can still download them if you want) for a new gamified, web-based summer reading program—themed Our Connected Stories—to bring the community together even when we must continue keeping our distance. Here’s the rundown on the new platform, the goodies to be earned, and extra programming from the library.

The Program

Beanstack, the digital platform which was to be supposed to be released in 2021—got fast-tracked to debut this summer when Boulder Public Library knew their branches wouldn’t be filled with people turning in the paper logs in person due to the pandemic. Readers won’t scratch book titles and minutes onto paper anymore, but the goal is the same: engage youth in reading and learning outside of school walls. But, that’s not all.

No one is excluded from this summer tradition: the wee pre-readers (ages 0-5 years old) to budding page-turners (kindergarten-fifth grade) to teens (6th-12th grade) and even the grown-ups. “We have kids who want their parents and caregivers to come along with them on this challenge,” says Anne Ledford, the Boulder Public Library’s Youth Services Manager. “And then we have adults who just genuinely enjoy the program and we want to give them an opportunity, and maybe an extra push, to open a few books this summer.”

And, what about the readers who can’t actually read yet? The goals for the zero- to five-year-old set are built around activities that start at the computer—with a caregivers help—and lead to adventures like nature walks and building projects. The Boulder Public Library team says that they want to meet people where they are this summer and provide a sliver of normalcy for their patrons … no matter how old they are. And the participants will get a little extra TLC this summer as the Beanstack system is geared for connecting the reader with personalized, exciting reads and encouraging him/her to trek down their personal reading path to glorious victory … and prizes.

The Prizes

Is it even a summer reading program without treasures to be earned? This year, the kids and teens will read toward age-appropriate goals while the allure of prizes like Cold Stone ice cream and PopSockets along with freebie entries to the Museum of Boulder and the Gateway Amusement Park wait beyond the last page. And if the adults make is beyond the halfway point to reading three titles, they will earn the timeliest prize of all: a Boulder Public Library gaiter.

Participants can stop by the main branch to snag the goods on two prize-pickup weeks: July 26-August 1 and again from August 23-31.

The Extra Credit

If kids read as little as four to five books during the out-of-class break, the reduce the summer slide toward academic loss before the school bell rings again. But if that’s not enough for your little learner, supplement the summer reading with a few extracurriculars from the library’s eclectic COVID-19 safe calendar: a Summer Enchantment magic show, a Build-Along Lego classes, a BYO-Baby Yoga, and more.

Visit for details and registration.

Written by Lindsey McKissick