A Victorian Statewide Reading Program
1 December – 31 January
Research has identified a phenomenon known as the ‘summer slide’, which refers to the loss of literacy skills over the summer holidays when children do not read—estimated on average as the equivalent of two to three months of reading proficiency. Loss of reading proficiency is most acute in children from economically disadvantaged communities. The decline in learning gains is made worse by successive COVID lockdowns.
Public libraries are in a unique and advantageous position to address the summer slide; studies have found that children who receive and read free books over summer experience the equivalent of attending three years of summer school, with the most economically disadvantaged children gaining the most from such initiatives.
A Victorian approach to the summer reading club/challenges typically offered by public libraries will raise awareness of the benefits of reading over summer and will ensure all Victorians have access to resources that have been proven to slow the slide. It also helps position our libraries as vital community resources in early childhood development, helping to foster a lifelong love of reading and learning.
The BIG Summer Read, developed by the Children’s and Youth Services Special Interest Group (CYS SIG) aims to slow the slide by engaging children and their families in a fun and dynamic campaign supported by Beanstack, a user-friendly website (with an intuitive mobile app) that makes it easy to register, track reading and earn digital ‘badges’ as rewards for reaching reading milestones.
Library services across the state participate in the BIG Summer Read each year. The campaign aims to increase library loans, engage young people in reading for pleasure and support literacy development. It is hoped the program will build on the wonderful Libraries Change Lives campaign and improve cross-sector collaboration into the future.
The program starts on 1 December and finishes on 31 January. Only books logged between these dates count towards the program and any prize draws.
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What is Beanstack?
Beanstack is an application that incentivises reading and allows users to keep track of how many books/audiobooks have been read.
A mobile app (also known as Beanstack Tracker) makes this easy with features including a barcode scanner and reading timer.
Is my library service participating?
Yes! All library services in Victoria are participating. Please contact your local library for more information.
Who can participate?
All children between the ages of 0-18 are welcome to participate! Independent and non-independent readers can log any book they read, that is read to them, or listened to as an audio. We encourage parents and caregivers to continue to read aloud to young people during the summer school holidays and log these books as part of the challenge.
Children under the age of 13 will need their parent’s permission in order to register with Beanstack. Parents can use the Family Account feature to track all of their children’s reading from a single login. Each participating library service may have their own terms and conditions or eligibility criteria for winning prizes so please check with your local library for confirmation.
Dynia, J.M., Piasta, S.B., Justice, L.M. and Columbus Metropolitan Library, 2015. Impact of library-based summer reading clubs on primary-grade children’s literacy activities and achievement. The Library Quarterly, 85(4), pp.386-405.