Libraries kick off annual Summer Reading program

The annual Summer Reading program for kids, teens and adults is underway at local public libraries. Pick up a Summer Reading card at Bellingham Public Library or Whatcom County Library System branches or download a card at the library systems’ websites, or Cards are available in English, Punjabi, Russian and Spanish languages. The library systems’ Summer Reading program ends Aug. 31, 2021.

Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library System team up each year to provide summer reading engagement for all ages. This year, rather than following prompts on a reading-inspired Bingo card, participants will chart their own paths. There are two cards – one for readers of all ages and one for young children who are not yet reading. The front of each card is illustrated with stepping stones that participants can fill in however they like to track their summer reading. Side two of the pre-reader card features five early reading practices (reading, singing, talking, playing and writing) adults can follow to help young people in their lives to develop a love of reading. The back of the reader card has suggestions on how to participate in Summer Reading 2021. There are no prizes and no requirement to complete the card. Readers will find inspiration on the library systems’ websites and social media accounts.

“Summer reading is our favorite time of the year,” says Bethany Hoglund, deputy director of the Bellingham Public Library. “It’s a chance to read anything you want, to learn anything you want. We like to tell kids and adults that anything they are interested in, they can find at the library. Summer reading is fun, and, for kids, it’s also one of the best ways to keep their brains active when they are not in school.” Hoglund adds that summer reading isn’t just about opening the pages of a book. “You can listen to a book, browse magazine articles, or watch movies and documentaries. It all counts,” she says. “And you can access all these resources for free at the library.”

“Summer reading is built on the idea of the joy of reading,” says Thom Barthelmess, youth services manager at the Whatcom County Library System. “We want young people to know that reading belongs to them, that they can choose what they’d like to read. The reward is that at the end of the summer, adults and young people will discover that reading is one of the most wonderful activities they can undertake.”

The library systems have created activities that add to the Summer Reading program experience. “The events and activities provide more opportunities to dip into the world of reading,” Barthelmess adds. For example, readers can take a StoryWalk® at all WCLS library buildings as well as downtown Blaine and Ferndale. A different book will be featured at each location. Pages from the book are installed along an outdoor path that visitors stroll to complete the story. WCLS is offering scavenger hunts for young people, and, on July 31, young people can visit any WCLS location to receive a free book, courtesy of the Whatcom County Library Foundation and Friends of the Library groups.

Bellingham Public Library will host outdoor Library Parties in parks for children (birth to teenagers) where young readers will receive a free book, have a chance to talk with library staff about books, take a StoryWalk® and participate in other reading-inspired activities. Find event dates and times at and Families can also find pre-recorded virtual storytimes for children ages birth to 5 on the library systems’ websites.

For more information, about Summer Reading activities visit local libraries in person or the library systems’ websites: or Local libraries may have COVID-19 entry requirements. Learn more at their websites and social media pages.

About BPL and WCLS: Bellingham Public Library (BPL) serves residents within the city limits of Bellingham with online resources and three locations: Central Library (downtown Bellingham), Barkley (Barkley Village) and Fairhaven. Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) serves residents outside the city limits of Bellingham with online resources and 10 branches: Blaine, Deming, Everson, Ferndale, Island (Lummi Island), Lynden, North Fork (Kendall), Point Roberts, South Whatcom (Sudden Valley) and Sumas. WCLS also has a bookmobile (serving Glenhaven, Birch Bay, Wickersham and Lake Samish) and a Library Express on Northwest Drive. The library systems share a collection, resulting in a robust selection of library materials for Bellingham and Whatcom County neighbors. Apply for a free library card at any location or online at or