Virtual Summer Reading Engagement Through PWPLS’s Digital Library

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Sponsored by Prince William Public Library System

From June 15-August 15, Prince William Public Library Public System (PWPLS) has a summer reading program for children and adults that is all online. The program utilizes resources such as the Beanstack Tracker app and PWPLS’s Digital Library.

COVID-19 and social distancing will not keep PWPLS from encouraging literacy and learning this summer. While children and adults are whisked to different lands and times through the books they listen to or read this summer, they can be interactive with PWPLS’s summer reading program.

Summer Reading

Summer reading encourages learning and literacy, while reducing “summer slide.”

Research shows students who do not engage in learning activities during the summer can get caught in the “summer slide” and forget what they learned during the long break. By the end of sixth grade, students who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates. Reading as few as four books can help students maintain – and even increase – their reading skills during the summer.

Rachel Johnson is PWPLS’s Communication Services Division Chief. Johnson said, “Our Summer Reading program is set up to encourage fun, creativity, and awards children for reaching milestones.”

Beanstalk Tracker

The program allows children and adults to complete activities with a game card or by using the Beanstack Tracker app.

“The game card is another way to track your Summer Reading progress if you’d rather do it on paper,” Johnson said. “It’s a printed copy of the Summer Reading activities that is available at any of our branches when you come to pick up your holds via Contact-Free Pick Up.”

However, the Beanstack Tracker app is a virtual way for tracking.

“The Beanstack Tracker app is a fun, easy way to track your Summer Reading progress,” she said. “It’s easy to sign up and check off the challenges that you complete. After 10 challenges are complete, you’ll get an alert that  once our libraries reopen, you can come in to select a book for you to keep.”

Children receive a new book to keep after they complete the 10 challenges. They are then entered in a grand prize drawing. If they complete all the activities, they receive a bonus entry for the grand prize drawing.

Bucket List Challenge

Adults get a similar entry. Once PWPLS libraries reopen, and adults complete 10 challenges through the Bucket List Challenge, they go to their favorite branch by August 15 to be entered for a grand prize drawing.

Prizes cannot be redeemed until the libraries reopen.

“Our top priority is the safety of our community and our staff,” said Johnson. “As we take guidance from state and county leadership,…  it’s still important that we practice social distancing. Virtual programming is a way to provide fun, educational experiences while doing our part to keep everyone safe.”

Digital Library

PWPLS’s Digital Library will make this virtual experience a little easier.

“Our Digital Library is an amazing selection of online websites and apps that you can access from your home computer or mobile device,” Johnson said. “Websites like Creativebug, Consumer Reports, and Ancestry–Library Edition[often]… have subscription fees. [These sites] can be accessed for free at using your library card.”

She added on that other popular apps like Libby, by OverDrive and hoopla Digital give readers access to free e-books, audiobooks and more from a computer, tablet and smartphone.

“Our mission at PWPLS is to bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community in a welcoming, inclusive environment,” she said. “We know that means so much more than coming to visit our libraries. Our Digital Library gives people access to use our services and resources even when they can’t come to the library.”

Digital Library Card

The digital library card provides access to these services.

“The digital library card gives you access to all of the library’s digital services without visiting a library branch to sign up… [W]hile our libraries are closed, this is a great opportunity for people [who haven’t had a physical library card]to use these online resources,” she said. “It’s also great for those who may not have the time or ability to come into our libraries, but still want to enjoy these online resources.

This may be fun and helpful for adults (alongside their children) who will be tracking their reading progress this program.

“Who doesn’t love a little extra motivation to keep reading and doing fun challenges?” Johnson said. “We want to encourage everyone, no matter their age, to read and enjoy fun activities like ‘Try a new recipe from AtoZ Food America’ and ‘Watch a movie on hoopla Digital.’

Community Safety

“Our top priority is the safety of our community and our staff. We are opening our doors beginning July 6. As we take guidance from state and county leadership, it’s still important that we practice social distancing. Virtual programming is a way to provide fun, educational experiences while doing our part to keep everyone safe.”

For more information on these resources and the program, visit and




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