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The Library Asked Nashvillians For 12 Million Minutes This Summer. They Gave 18 Million.

September 27, 2019

The City read more than 18 Million Minutes During Library’s Summer Reading Challenge



  • The most readers ever participated this year, especially parents with their babies and toddlers 
  • Haywood Elementary was Metro Schools’ top achiever
  • Summer Challenge helps address Tennessee’s ongoing struggle with childhood literacy


The results are in and the message is clear: Nashville loves to read.

Nearly 19,000 Nashvillians read for a total of 18,544,598 minutes during this year’s Summer Reading Challenge at Nashville Public Library (NPL), setting a new record for the city and doing even more to address the community’s shortfalls in childhood literacy.

Why Does Summer Reading Matter?

When students stop reading during vacation, they can lose months worth of academic skills and start the next school year already behind, according to the National Summer Learning Association.

The phenomenon is called “summer slide,” and it’s part of Nashville’s early literacy problem. Only about 34% of students will read at grade level when they finish the third grade, according to the 2018 Blueprint for Early Childhood Success.

However, reading just 20 minutes a day can keep this “summer slide” at bay for kids who already go to school–and develop children when they’re at their youngest, from birth to age 5, so they’ll soar when they walk into a classroom for the first time.

“The success of our children’s future hinges not just on their ability to read, but on their love and excitement toward reading and learning. That is our priority for summer reading—to make it a fun and rewarding experience that children will value for years to come,” said Lisa Bubert, a children’s librarian at the Library’s Madison location who coordinated the challenge.

Metro Schools Meets the Challenge

Metro Nashville Public Schools students answered the library’s call to “Blast Off!” into summer reading during this year's space-themed campaign as Haywood Elementary achieved the highest participation and completion among the city’s 168 public schools.

“We are happy for this recognition, but even happier that so many of our Haywood students benefited from this program,” said Megan Galloway, principal at Haywood Elementary. “Our Summer School coordinator was intentional in scheduling visits to the library and for reading every day.  We made reading fun, the incentives were a bonus. We also sent books home with students so they were not only reading at school, but also at home.” 

Parents Meet the Challenge

Additionally, 1,750 parents and caregivers completed Summer Challenge with their children ages birth to 3 in the “listeners” category. 

That’s the most readers in this age bracket that have ever participated in the library’s summer reading campaigns. 

NPL last year added to its early reading arsenal with Read to Rise, a year-round program that addresses reading shortfalls in “listeners.” 

The program encourages parents, grandparents, and caregivers to read to their babies and toddlers for at least 20 minutes every day. Read to Rise celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sep 12.

It Takes A City

People of all ages across Davidson County embraced the city’s summer reading culture as nearly 11,000 participants read at least 600 minutes alone or 200 minutes as a group to earn prizes and become “Reading Rocketeers.”

Meanwhile, generous support from AllianceBernstein through the Nashville Public Library Foundation (NPLF) meant the library could take its campaign to everyone in Davidson County at no cost.

“AllianceBernstein applauds the Nashville Public Library Foundation for its work to combat the ‘summer slide’ through its Summer Reading Challenge,” said President and CEO Seth Bernstein. “We are very proud of this progress, and are honored to partner with organizations such as NPLF who are committed to increasing early childhood literacy.”

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Ed's a proud member of NPL's Marketing and Communications team. Some of his favorite books include Dracula, Once an EagleNeuromancerStarship TroopersThe Black CompanyBerserkBlade of the ImmortalBlame! and Vampire Hunter D. When not at the Library, you'll find him spending time with his wife and son, doing interval training, reading, or waiting for the next FromSoftware game.