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Librarians Getting Ready to Read with the Rhythm

by on March 1, 2015

Get out your guitar, ukulele, maracas, and tambourine! Winter is not even over, but librarians across the country have already been choreographing their “Read to the Rhythm” summer.

Many libraries are using the Illinois Reading Enrichment and Development program (iREAD), which has the a musical theme for 2015, “Read to the Rhythm.” iREAD originated in 1982 in Illinois as a statewide collaboration with the goal of providing low cost, high quality summer reading resources for libraries. Since then, libraries in several other states, including California and Minnesota, have taken advantage of the program.

Illinois Library Association’s iREAD Committee showcased the 2015 theme at their conference last fall. The presentation included a myriad of suggestions for every age group, from baby to adult. The youngest audiences will enjoy musical story times, which will also tie in nicely with the early literacy skill, “sing.” Offerings for school age children can range from STEM topics, like the science of sound, to exploring new cultures. Dance lessons, lip synching, finish the lyrics, and “Name That Tune” contests could appeal to a wide variety of ages from tweens and teens to adults.

Librarians are sharing their great display, craft, and program ideas on the iREAD Pinterest page. The theme lends itself well to musical makerspaces— making homemade musical instruments like harmonicas, drums, or maracas. Musical craft ideas abound on this board as well. Ideas we’ll be using at my library, Great River Regional Library in Minnesota, include passive programs like guess the nursery rhyme, guess the animated movie from a song, “Mad Lib” lyrics, and a musical genre guessing game.

iRead is also currently highlighting artwork from children’s illustrator Don Tate. Tate’s illustrations in Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite are perfectly in tune with the iREAD musical theme. Tate is a champion for diversity in children’s literature and is also one of the founders of the blog The Brown Bookshelf , which is designed to raise awareness of African-American writing for young readers. He also recently joined the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team.

Furthermore, iRead has resources for strengthening your summer reading program. The California Library Association partnered with iREAD in 2013 and brought along resources on developing outcome-based measurements for summer reading programs. California has adopted two statewide summer reading outcomes: “Children belong to a community of readers” and “Underserved community members participate in the summer reading program.” Resources for adapting these outcomes or creating outcome-based measurements are included in the iREAD manual. It also includes reproducible resources about the summer slide and why summer reading programs are important.

It’s not too late to join the festivities! The iRead  program catalog is available at ireadprogram.org.


Mitnick, Eva. “CA Librarians Gear Up For Summer with iREAD’s Read to the Rhythm Programming.” School Library Journal.  November 19, 2014.

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