Summer reading programs began in the 1890s as a way to encourage school children, particularly those in urban areas and not needed for farm work, to read during their summer vacation, use the library and develop the habit of reading.
The value of reading throughout the long summer vacation is recognized by ALA's Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC, a division of the American Library Association) by the ALSC/Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant which is designed to encourage reading programs for children in public libraries by providing $3,000 in financial assistance, while recognizing ALSC members for outstanding program development. Applications are due by December 1 of each year in support of a program the next summer.
That value is also recognized by ALA's Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA, a division of the American Library Association) with two types of Dollar General Summer Reading Grants for YALSA members. The Summer Reading Teen Intern Grant will award $1,000 to each of 20 libraries for the purpose of hiring summer teen interns to assist with summer reading activities. The Summer Reading Resources Grant will award $1,000 to each of 20 libraries in need with the purpose of helping them purchase resources to bolster their teen summer reading program. Applications are due by January 1 of each year in support of a program that summer.