Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Checkout @ My School: What We're Doing and How We're Doing It

Do you allow your students checkout library books over the summer? If you do not, I am here to encourage you to give it a try.

Yes, it's possible that you will lose books over the summer. That's happened to me a few times. But I do it anyway, and I think you should, too. Will we lose books? I'm sure we will. But we lose books during the school year, too, far more than I've ever lost due to summer checkout.

Tweet: "This year, for the first time ever, I am allowing unlimited summer checkout."

Long car trips, lounging by the pool, sitting around Grandma's house...summertime offers ample opportunity for students to read for pleasure. To wield against the inevitable summer backslide, students need to read over the summer. It's my job as their librarian to make that as feasible as possible. What are students supposed to read if they have no books at home? What if their parents can't or won't take them to the public library? What if the closest public library is a 10-mile walk from Uncle Morty's house?

Tweet: "If we want our students to continue to read over the summer, summer checkout is essential."

So how do I do summer checkout at my school? Well, I used to allow students to checkout up to 10 books for the summer, and many took advantage of that. This year, for the first time ever, I am allowing unlimited summer checkout. I am interested to see how my students do with this, and I plan to post an update to this post after books are due back in August.




I show students this PowerPoint in the days leading up to Summer Checkout. I use this to discuss summer checkout with classes, and it scrolls throughout the day on a 70" TV in the library.


At the middle school level, I do not require parental permission for summer checkout. I used to require it, but I didn't like how requiring parental permission hindered some students from summer checkout. Forgotten or lost permission forms meant that student wasn't taking out any books for summer. I did not require permission forms during the regular school year; why should summer checkout be any different? The vast majority of summer checkout books come back unscathed anyway.

At the elementary level, I would require permission only if students were taking out more than four books. Any more than four books, students will need help carrying the books home.

Tweet: "I didn't like how requiring parental permission hindered some students from summer checkout."



My Summer Reading Wishlist: contains directions for summer reading, 10 blank lines with spaces for call numbers, 3 blank lines for alternate choices, and black and white flip-flops and a beach scene to colorI make Wishlists available for students who want to think about their book selections. I love watching how much thought students put into making their lists!

The Wishlist serves two purposes: to help students plan their checkouts, and to ease student anxiety over the availability of certain titles. Students worried about availability can give me their list early, and I will pull the books on the Wishlists the day before summer checkout officially begins. This also helps me avoid a mad rush in the library on the first day of summer checkout.

Download free PDF of the My Summer Reading Wishlist


What are your experiences with summer checkout? Has it been successful at your school? Have you lost many books due to summer checkout?


  1. I'm thinking of offering summer checkout this year. Do you set a date when students can summer checkout? The last day of school? Thx.

    1. Yes, the last day to checkout is 15 school days before the last day. Students have to return their books 10 school days before the last day of school. They can checkout for summer in the last 5 days of school (last week of school).


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