Written by Kelly Sheehy, Content Specialist, Downtown Main Library

The arrival of summer brings many things to mind: lemonade, swimming pools, cookouts, and if you’re anything like us, the Library’s Summer Adventure program! Each year from June 1 – July 31 we make it our mission to prevent summer learning loss while school is out by rewarding kids for reading books and participating in activities in their communities. We also know that full minds require full tummies, so we provide summer meals and snacks to kids at many of our branch libraries across the county until school starts. 

In just the first six weeks of the program, we registered over 35,823 kids, teens, and adults into the Summer Adventure program. Our branch libraries registered families, daycares, entire districts of first responders, and more!

Upon sign-up, participants receive their interactive Summer Adventure passport. Each week has a different theme to explore like the arts, science, nature, or sports and the opportunity to win a prize each time you check-in to show your progress.

Kids even got to join in the fun when they couldn’t physically make it to the Branch Library to do their weekly check-ins. “We had a preschool teacher at Children’s Hospital sign up kids from the ‘Giraffe Room’,” said Clifton Branch Manager Lisa Hamrick. “The kiddies couldn’t come to the Branch, but the teacher to pick up their prizes each week. She gave us a thank you photo of all the little ones wearing sunglasses.” 

Kids doing a STEAM activity at one of the Branch Libraries. 

This year, the prizes were better than ever. Each participant, no matter their age, received a free book of their choosing just for signing up for the program. 

“I had a teen and her mom come into the Library looking to check out Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, which was on her summer assignment list for school,” said Forest Park Branch Children’s Librarian Stefani Leming. “We were able to get the teen and her mom registered for Summer Adventure where Akata Witch was among our many book choices. She was so excited to have a copy she could keep!” 

Each week, participants checked-in to earn even more prizes using scratch-off coupons. The prizes included gift cards to Chuck E. Cheese's, Fandango, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and more; tickets to the Cincinnati Zoo; art kits, robots, and big boxes of LEGOs.  
One surprise hit prize at the Madeira Branch Library was the spikey play balls. “Babies gave us ginormous grins over them, a 7th-grade boy swapped his coupon for one, and we even had an adult who wanted to use one as an exercise ball to help the pain in her legs,” said Children’s Librarian Claire Schroeder. 

The grand prize this year? Tickets for an epic day of fun at Coney Island! The grand prize was awarded on August 1 to lucky winner Joseph and his family. 
Summer Adventure grand prize winner Joseph and family. 

During the Summer Adventure program, the Library served over 12,799 meals and snacks to school-aged children under the age of 18 in the first month and a half alone. With well balanced, healthy options, kids who rely on school-provided food programs weren’t left worrying about where their lunch was coming from during the summer months. The program ended August 16, but many of the branch libraries continue to provide afternoon snacks during the school year to combat the increase in Cincinnati food deserts and childhood food insecurity. 

The Library also hosted several weeks of STEAM Adventure programming, week-long Brain Camps, and Jr. Adventure Labs over the course of the two months. This summer marked the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, so kids had a blast exploring and learning about different aspects of the solar system through programs provided by NASA @ My Library. 

Kids participating in NASA @ My Library programming. 

With programming designed to be fun as well as educational, children enrolled in Library day camps got exposure to everything from art-making to robot programming. Across all of the sessions over 1,620 kids participated. 

A huge and heartfelt thank you goes out to all of the Library staff and participants who helped make this year’s Summer Adventure a success.

We also want to thank our sponsors and promotional partners The Library Foundation of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Friends of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Marge & Charles J. Schott Foundation, Duke Energy, the John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust through the PNC Charitable Trusts Grant Review Committee, The Andrew Jergens Foundation, Luther Charitable Foundation, Western and Southern Financial Fund, the Ruth J. and Robert A. Conway Foundation, and Energy Alliances for providing the necessary support to make program possible.

Finally, we’re so grateful to our promotional and community partners Cincinnati Metro, Busken, Chuck E. Cheese’s, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cincinnati Zoo, Coney Island, FC Cincinnati, Frisch’s Big Boy, Gold Star Chili, the Taft Museum of Art, and United Dairy Farmers. Thank you all for helping to make this year’s Summer Adventure the best one yet. We hope you’ll join us next year!

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