Summer Reading at Madison Public Library Begins with the WE READ Program!
Wisconsin Eagle/10274100

MADISON, WI – Beginning on Wednesday, June 12, kids and families can visit any Madison Public Library location to pick up a WE READ tote bag, card game, early literacy calendar, and more, as part of summer reading. WE READ is Madison Public Library's version of a summer reading program, and it incorporates elements of reading, writing, creating, and playing - both at their nine locations and from home.

"We want to encourage kids to read and play throughout the summer in a way that builds literacy development and engages the whole family in reading. What we heard from the community is that it adds unnecessary barriers and burdens when we require kids or families to 'track' reading," said Madison Public Library Youth Services Manager Tammy Ocampo. "That way of doing summer reading only benefits kids who already love reading and have easy access to libraries. With WE READ, we wanted to offer more equitable options that gave alternatives to in-library programs. That meant providing more ways to read outside the library for those who face transportation barriers, while making sure not to lose core elements of what makes summer reading enjoyable. Namely, that it's FUN!"

The WE READ summer reading program involves many different elements for all ages, and encourages families and kids to explore different aspects of reading and literacy.


Madison Public Library will once again hand out WE READ tote bags to library visitors at each of its nine locations, on the Dream Bus, and at community outreach events throughout the summer.

"Kids can decorate their bags to make them their own, then fill them up with great books from the library's collection again and again," said Ocampo. "Getting a library card for your child or family is the first step to a world of adventure, entertainment, learning and creativity both at the library and beyond."

The library will also be encouraging pre-readers and early readers with multiple literacy-building activities. Music and movement-based storytimes, Read to a Dog programs, a Literacy Calendar that can be taken home, and a special weekly Literacy Tip will all be part of WE READ this summer.


The WE READ Card Deck returns for a second year with a few notable enhancements - the card game is now playable! Games like memory, charades, solitaire, etc. are now able to be played, meaning that kids and families can enjoy the deck all summer long. The card game is also bilingual in English and Spanish, and includes several reading activities and challenges for families to try together, as well as jokes, tongue-twisters, rhymes and other instant, reading-based rewards. Copies of the deck are available at all library locations and the Dream Bus now. Learn more about how to play the game online at

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Another change is that this year, the WE READ Card Game is NOT tied directly to prizes at the desk. The deck is the deck, and prizes are tied to interactions with staff, so kids don't need to remember to bring cards back to the library.

Kids earn prizes by filling out or responding to a weekly Share Your Voice prompt in the library and can take home specialty items like customizable wooden bookmarks, snap bracelets, and mini maker kits.


The WE READ Bubbler Artist-in-Residence program (formerly Bubbler Artist in the Neighborhood) runs June to August 2024. This program places a local artist into each library for the entire summer with the goal of hosting weekly programs for kids and families. The vision and expertise of local teaching artists mingles with collaborative input from library communities to create something entirely new that's rooted in literacy, creative self-expression, and hands-on learning for children and families. READ ARTIST BIOS

Kick-off events led by each artist are scheduled at most library locations in June, and are a good time to meet the WE READ Bubbler Artist at your location.
The weekly program schedule can be found on the WE READ website.

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The WE READ Youth Voices Writing Contest celebrates the connection between reading and writing, as well as the beauty of youth voice in the community.

The theme for the 2024 writing contest is "Celebrate Small Heroes," and was chosen by this year's Youth Ambassador and last year's Grand Prize Winner, Diya Dwahal. Every act of heroism, bravery, or kindness - no matter how small - matters.

Aspiring writers in the Madison area, ages 18 and under, are invited to submit a short story, poem, song, etc. with the chance to win CASH PRIZES, get recognized on the field at a Forward Madison FC game, be published in the Youth Voices Anthology, and participate as one of the featured authors at the Wisconsin Book Festival Fall Celebration in October. The contest closes to submissions at the end of this month on Sunday, June 30, 2024.

Learn more about WE READ and all of the activities available this summer at Madison Public Library by visiting

WE READ is made possible thanks to support from Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation, Madison Public Library Foundation, Friends of the Madison Public Library, Dick Goldberg & Lisa Munro, and David Wood & Jane Doughty.

About Madison Public Library
Madison Public Library's tradition of promoting education, literacy and community involvement has enriched the City of Madison for more than 145 years.  Visit the library online at and @madisonpubliclibrary on Facebook and Instagram.

Filed Under: Government, City

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