School’s almost out for summer, and the Gwinnett County Public Library is gearing up to make it a season of reading fun and learning with its Summer Reading Challenge for both children and adults.

The theme for this year’s challenge is Tails & Tales and it’s all about animals and helping children continue to learn while they’re on summer break, said Patty Reeber, youth service manager with GCPL.

“Studies show that a lot of kids experience what is commonly referred to as ‘summer slide,’ which is a loss of knowledge during summer when they’re not in school,” Reeber said.  

“We hope we can help combat that knowledge loss in a fun way,” added Victoria Hopkins, who serves as GCPL’s director of marketing and communications.


To participate in the Summer Reading Challenge, which runs from June 1 through Aug. 13, you’ll need to register as a user online with Beanstack, which manages the program for GCPL. You can register at

Once you register, you’ll unlock your first badge. You’ll also be invited to stop by your local library branch to pick up a welcome packet with information about the program and related special events, a bookmark and an origami challenge. The welcome packet is optional and is not required to complete the Summer Reading Challenge.

Once you’ve created an online account with Beanstack, you can begin logging the minutes you spend reading to earn points toward prizes — one minute spent reading equals one point. 

To make tracking the amount of time spent reading easy, Beanstack has a smartphone app that can be downloaded from the iPhone App Store or the Google Play on Android phones.  

How much should you read?

GCPL is encouraging participants to spend 20 minutes per day reading — “Reading 20 minutes a day helps you build a lot of critical thinking skills, social-emotional skills and empathy,” Reeber said.

What should you read?

“Read books that you enjoy,” Reeber said. “Summer is not a time for levels and worrying about whether you’re reading on the correct level or your child is reading a book on the correct level. If your child wants to read a graphic novel, that’s perfectly fine. Graphic novels are awesome!”

Reading books isn’t the only reading that counts toward the Summer Reading Challenge — reading fan-fiction, blogs, newspapers and more counts too.

“Since we also know that people learn in all different ways, we include activities that allow people to explore a variety of topics at their own pace,” Hopkins said.


What Summer Reading Challenge would be complete without prizes for achieving reading goals?

Prizes for kids in kindergarten through 12th grade include:

  • 350 points — A free book of the child’s choice from a selection of titles
  • 700 points — A second free book of the child’s choice from a selection of titles
  • 1,400 points — A third free book of the child’s choice from a selection of titles and an entry into the grand prize drawing
  • 3,200 points — A fourth free book of the child’s choice from a selection of titles and a second entry into the grand prize drawing

The grand prize is a virtual visit with a live animal and a trip for five people to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary.

Prizes for adult readers include free bookmarks and entries into the grand prize drawing for reaching 1,400 and 3,200 points.

Prizes are available while supplies last.

For more information on the Summer Reading Challenge, click here.

Summer reading recommendations

The following are recommendations for children and teen to get started with the Summer Reading Challenge:

Picture books

  • “The Rock from the Sky” by Jon Klassen. 
  • “You Have to Read This Book” by Bruce Eric Kaplen
  • “Saturday” by Oga Mora

Chapter books

  • The Aru Shah series by Roshani Chokshi
  • “Merci Suárez Can’t Dance” by Med Medina 
  • “Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase” by Jonathan Stroud


  • “Concrete Rose” by Angie Thomas
  • “Yes, No, Maybe So” by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed.
  • “Instructions for Dancing” by Nicola Yoon


Deanna Allen has more than 15 years of experience working for print and online media publications, from starting out as a community reporter to working her way up to evening editor and copy...

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