Reading, earning prizes with Summer Discovery

Teens ages 12-18 in the Dakota County Library ‘Volunteen’ program help young people register for the Summer Discovery program and assist with summer events.

Dakota County Library re-imagines and rebrands summer reading program

Summer is in full swing, and that means it’s time to hit the books.

That’s right. Dakota County Libraries is hosting another year of summer reading programs, and there’s something for young people of all ages.

“One of the reasons we offer a program to encourage reading and writing over the summer is to retract summer-slide and learning loss,” said Renee Grassi, Dakota County Libraries Youth Services manager. “There’s a lot of research out there that if kids don’t continue reading throughout the summer, they start off the school year behind.”

This summer, the library is offering free programming for students of all ages. They also have a pre-reading program to encourage new parents and caregivers to read with younger children, even if the children aren’t reading on their own yet.

“It encourages that caregiver and child interaction that will set them up to be successful readers,” Grassi said.

Summer Discovery, this year’s summer reading program for young people, is a re-imagining and rebranding of the former program, Bookawocky.

“We decided we wanted to come up with a name that evokes learning and reading. It’s a call to imagination over the summer,” Grassi said. “Bookawocky had its time, and was a really great word, but Summer Discovery is a better way to translate what the program is about.”

Grassi said the new program moves past asking all participants to read a certain number of books or log a certain number of reading hours.

“Kids get to decide how they want to spend their summer,” she said. “If they are avid readers, they can read all summer long. If they are budding readers and learners, they decide what will be best for them. We are really trying to encourage kids of all levels, abilities and interests.”

Summer Discovery also moves beyond the walls of the library. Participants can earn credit for hands-on learning, such as visiting a museum.

“Every kid reads at a different level and begins reading at a different age,” Grassi said. “This is a person-centered model. Reading a book or completing a book may be completing the program for some children. Maybe they have a goal of listening to a book over the summer. For experiential learners, they can visit a museum for hands-on learning.”

Summer Discovery also features an online platform. It’s free, and participants can access it through the Dakota County Library website. Grassi said young people can earn badges on the site as they complete activities, and teens can post book reviews to share summer reads with the community.

“Teens will be sharing recommendations across platforms. The badges give kids an extra incentive. It’s great for parents too,” Grassi said. “The program is mobile friendly. They can just log on and keep track of everything. It’s easy to remember and great for on-the-go or traveling families.”

The libraries are also hosting the Summer Discovery Art Contest for kindergartners through fifth-graders, and the Summer Discovery Teen Bookmark Contest for students in grades six through 12.

“Through reading, learning, exploring the world — something that is fun and educational too — we hope to encourage kids to keep discovering over the summer,” she said.

When they complete the program, kids and teens can earn prizes.

“If they complete the program, they get a free book from the library. We provide free, brand new, paperback books,” she said. “When a family has more books in their home, the kids become stronger readers and more successful students.”

They can also enter drawings for prizes such as tickets to the Minnesota State Fair or a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field.

Residents of Apple Valley need not fret. Although the Galaxie Library is under construction, patrons can still pick up requested books and materials from the site. People interested in signing up for Summer Discovery, however, will need to either visit one of the other Dakota County libraries or register online.

The closest libraries to Galaxie are Burnhaven (1101 County Road 42 W., Burnsville), Robert Trail (14395 S. Robert Trail, Rosemount), Heritage (20085 Heritage Drive, Lakeville) and Wescott (1340 Wescott Road, Eagan).

Participation is quickly growing. Already, more than 7,000 young people have signed up for Summer Discovery in the libraries, and more than 450 have signed up online.

Learn more about the Summer Discovery at or register for the online program at People can follow the Dakota County Library at

To find Dakota County Library programs for all ages, birth through adult, check out the program guide: Click on “calendar of events” or a full schedule.

Contact Amy Mihelich at

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