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Attention Nashville Teens: the Summer Reading Challenge is For You, Too!

June 1, 2021

“Press Play” Your Way as You Earn Points for Free Prizes

Alright, so … summer’s finally here, and we all know what that means: school’s out, and it’s time to hit the beach, or the lake, or hang out with friends every night. And it absolutely means you don’t — I mean don’t even think about — touch a book or anything to do with school until the fall.

If that’s how you feel about reading during the summer months, trust us: we don’t blame you. You have to ingest a lot of words and information during school, and the thought of doing anything even remotely related to studying during your hard-won break probably seems like a drag.

We’ve all been there, but, whether you realize it or not, you’re going to be reading throughout the summer. And, guess what: you’ll probably enjoy it when you do!

At Nashville Public Library (NPL), we want you to recognize that our Summer Reading Challenge isn’t about forcing you to sit in some dark corner reading a paperback for hours on end. It’s about rewarding you for the reading that you already do, in whatever form that takes.

Here’s what we mean.

Forget Books - Read Your Way

When someone tells you that you should read more, you’ve probably concluded that they’re telling you to go read Moby Dick or The Sound and the Fury or A Tale of Two Cities or another work of “real classic literature.”

We’re here to tell you: that’s not what reading has to be.

“What we really want to emphasize for teens is that reading doesn’t mean what you think it does,” said Liz Movius, a librarian at the Southeast Branch Library. “For the Summer Reading Challenge, any form of reading and literacy, whether they include print books or not, counts toward your minutes.”

So, if reading doesn’t have to mean traditional print books, then what does it mean? The answer is: it all comes down to you and what you enjoy.

Consider this: if you’re a fan of Dungeons & Dragons, or any tabletop roleplaying game where you create characters and share stories with others, you’re reading. You have to roll stats; check the game manuals for rules and tips for play; and if you’re the Dungeon Master or Storyteller, you might be writing out dialogue for your NPCs. It’s all reading.

Another example: if you are or dream of being a songwriter, or a poet, or an author, and you practice daily, you’re engaged in reading every day. Whether composing lyrics or typing out fanfiction on Wattpad, you’re processing words, deciding what comes next, and using literacy to express your creativity.

And chew on this for a minute: if you’re a huge devourer of social or other forms of online media, whether scrolling through posts on your Instagram or keeping up with a thread in your favorite subreddit, that counts as reading, too. For gamers, that time you spend reading and joining in online community discussions for games like Dark Souls or Stardew Valley works just fine.

The bottom line is this: you don’t have to read print books or even enjoy “traditional reading'' to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge. You can rack up points by doing the things you love doing every day. That’s what our theme for this year, “Press Play,” is all about.

Read Whatever Books You Want

We just used a lot of column space talking about how you don’t have to read traditional books to be a Summer Reading Challenge participant. We mean that sincerely, but that doesn’t mean we want to discount books altogether. We’re librarians, after all. Sue us.

What we do want to drive home is that, if you’re already a book lover, you don’t have to read what others consider to be “real literature” to participate.

For you otakus out there, your favorite manga most definitely counts as reading. So does reading the subtitles if you’re a subbed anime fan. If you’re trying to learn Korean so you can sing along to your favorite K-pop idols, log your minutes (and check out some free resources we have to help you learn another language).

The same goes for comic books and graphic novels. Whether you enjoy seeing Batman coming down hard on the Joker or keeping up with Dream and Deaths’ adventures in The Sandman, “the funny pages” yield minutes toward your reading goals.

And don’t forget audiobooks! If all you do is listen to your favorite titles while you’re taking a road trip or driving to your part-time job, that time counts toward your minutes.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that you don’t have to have money to get your hands on the titles you love. From manga staples like My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, and Dragon Ball Z, to trending comics like BRZRKR and The Walking Dead, we’ve got plenty of fan-favorites, in multiple formats, just waiting to be checked out in our online catalog.

There Are Free Goodies in it For You

Now, here’s the important question: reading’s great and all, but what’s in it for me? 

Glad you asked. Like we pointed out in the beginning, our goal is to reward you for reading the way you love to, all summer long. That’s why we offer free prizes while you “Press Play.”

Every 600 minutes that you log reading from May 3 through August 21 nets you free prizes from any of our in-person service or curbside-only locations, while supplies last. Below are the tiers we have set up.

  • 600 Minutes - A phone charger cable that fits both iPhone and Android models
  • 1200 Minutes - Coupons for free food and other goodies at businesses throughout Nashville
  • 1800 Minutes - Even more coupons for free stuff

And if you’re not incentivized by material goods, that’s cool! That’s why it’s called the Summer Reading Challenge. This is your opportunity to discover just how much you read over summer, challenge yourself to read even more, or explore new genres. If you’re the competitive sort, the Challenge is a chance for you and your friends to see just who is the most devoted reader of them all.

“Press Play” Your Way, Today

We hope you enjoyed reading this post, and thanks for sticking through to the end! If you’re ready to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge (and with free prizes for doing the fun stuff you do anyway, why wouldn’t you?), just head on over to our website and register, or swing by any of our in-person or curbside-only service locations to grab a paper reading log.

Don’t feel like hunting down a desktop to log minutes online? No problem. Like most things in life now, there’s an app for that. Just search for “READSquared” in your cell phone’s app store.

Once you’re signed up online, or have your paper log, just start logging your minutes. No need to do it the minute you stop reading/roleplaying/writing/whatever. Do it at the end of the day, or the week, or the month, or every time you get to 100 minutes...whatever works best for you. So long as your time is tracked by August 21, it’s good.

And don’t forget to give yourself credit for the time you spent reading this post – it’s on us!

Wizard avatar


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.


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