2017 Guide to Summer Library Reading Programs for Older Adults in the Bay Area

When I was a kid in the Midwest and summer was approaching, I always looked forward to the library’s summer reading program. It felt magical to me—and not because of the prizes they gave out (fancy pencils, little toys, pizza coupons) for reading a certain number of books. For me, the reading lists were incentive enough because I knew that as soon as I registered for the program, I’d have in my hands a thoughtful collection of the best, most creative works of literature to hit the shelves in recent years.

Summer Reading Programs In The Bay Area For Older AdultsWhen I was a kid in the Midwest and summer was approaching, I always looked forward to the library’s summer reading program. It felt magical to me—and not because of the prizes they gave out (fancy pencils, little toys, pizza coupons) for reading a certain number of books. For me, the reading lists were incentive enough because I knew that as soon as I registered for the program, I’d have in my hands a thoughtful collection of the best, most creative works of literature to hit the shelves in recent years.
Lucky for me, libraries all over the country get involved in summer reading challenges, and these programs are not just for kids. If you like to read, then you know the value of hitting gold and finding that one book among so many on the shelf that speaks to you in a new and inspired way. With a curated reading program, the “shelf” you’re choosing from features a small and special collection, and you’re likely to find many more than just one favorite.
This summer, all over the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find reading programs for older adults. We’ve gathered a list of some of the exciting local programs for you to check out. We’re sure that when you find the right program for you, it will help to invigorate your mind, your level of activity, and your connection to the community this summer!

Why Sign Up for a Bay Area Summer Reading Program in 2017?

When was the last time you visited your local library? Many Bay Area libraries have not only extensive and exciting book collections with experienced, helpful librarians but also beautiful library facilities inside and out. You could make it a goal this summer to take walks to the library, if it’s not too far away, or to take walks in and around the library area. Stimulate your brain by osmosis just by being around so much knowledge and so many other hungry minds! You might even strike up some new friendships and connections with other older adults committing to a 2017 summer reading challenge.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t be discouraged. This guide will help to give you an idea of some Bay Area options and some steps to take if these particular suggestions don’t apply to your location and interests. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive: We’ve highlighted some standout opportunities, but there are so many more summer reading programs for you to check out in libraries all over the Bay Area. Just by looking into your options, you’re starting to wake up your mind to the light and energy of summer.

2017 Summer Reading Programs for Older Adults in the East Bay

Build Your Brain

Contra Costa County Library
June 5–August 5, 2017
To enter: You can sign up as early as June 5, but you can register (online or in person) for your free resident library card even sooner if you haven’t already.

“As always, everyone is encouraged to get busy reading WHATEVER, WHENEVER, and HOWEVER you want. We don’t care what you read, just as long as you READ. Enjoy!” The Contra Costa County Library’s focus is on reading as good exercise for the brain, and this is especially beneficial for older adults. Reading can help you keep your memory and cognition sharp and active. You’ll track the books you read and other brain-stimulating activities you do, so you can earn prizes and stay involved in the library community. The library’s list of incentives offers great motivation to read enthusiastically this summer: You could win San Francisco Giants tickets, a Fitbit, board games, an Instax Camera, Opera House tickets, and a lot more. Check out the library’s book recommendations for the Summer Reading Festival 2017, or reach out to one of your librarians directly for personally targeted recommendations.

Reading by Design

Berkeley Public Library
June 16–September 2, 2017
To enter: Fill out the online form and download the game card for adults.

Inspired by the creativity found in books and other forms of art and design, the Berkeley Public Library’s 2017 reading program aims to inspire creativity in its participants. The printable game card gives a list of eligible activities that will help you fill out your card, but it also encourages you to imagine your own library-related activity. If you haven’t already tried diving into a book or magazine through the computer, a tablet, an e-reader, or even listening to an audiobook, now might be a great time to give it a go. In fact, raffle prizes include a Kindle Fire and a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, among other possibilities.

2017 Summer Reading Programs for Older Adults in Marin and Sonoma County

Bookshelf Bingo!

San Rafael Public Library
June 9–September 6, 2017
To enter: You just need a San Rafael Public Library card or another MARINet card (both free to register if you live locally).

Turn your summer reading progress into a game. For each book you read, report to the library’s Reference Desk to get a square marked off on your 2017 Bookshelf Bingo Card. The individual squares will encourage you to stretch beyond your common book picks—for example, choose a “book published in the decade you were born” or books from diverse genres. This program takes that priceless list of book recommendations to a whole new level: Some of your Bingo Card squares will prompt you to give a book recommendation. Those community picks will be added to a master list for all to access. You’ll also find focused reading lists related to specific genres and other Bingo square activities. When you reach new Bingo milestones, you’re eligible for prizes, including a coupon for the Friends Bookstore, food coupons, and raffle entries to win a to-be-announced grand prize.

Adult Summer Reading Bingo Challenge!

Sonoma County Library
June 5–August 26, 2017
To enter: Register at your Sonoma County Library branch with an active library card (free to sign up for a card online or in person for residents).

Sonoma County’s Ballot Measure Y passed in 2016, increasing sales tax marginally to support library budgets county-wide. Keep an eye out for exciting new services and programs getting a boost from this generous community vote. And, this summer, check out the interactive reading program for adults. This summer’s theme is Build a Better World, which ties into seasonal seminars and other events for children, teens, and adults. Once you register for the adult summer reading program, you’ll start collecting Bingo squares by reading books and completing other activities, including reading books out loud to others. Each Bingo row you complete opens you up to a new prize and a new raffle ticket for a grand prize.

2017 Summer Reading Program for Older Adults in the South Bay

Build a Better World

Sunnyvale Public Library
June 1–August 31
To enter: Sunnyvale Library cardholders can register at the library between June 1 and June 15. Find out how to get a library card here.

Take a look at this summer’s Reading Program form for the Sunnyvale Library. You can complete box activities by reading books and accomplishing other diverse tasks, like visiting important local sites, using digital tools for research and learning, and even trying out a new recipe from a library cookbook. You can keep track of all the books you read and receive a $5 gift certificate to the Friends of the Library bookstore when you complete your program challenges. You’ll also be entered for a chance to win the grand prize raffle.

Finding the 2017 Bay Area Summer Reading Challenge That Is Right for You

Unfortunately, you won’t be eligible for all of these programs because libraries tend to accept participants who are residents of the city or county. If none of the above opportunities correspond with your home location, do a search for your county library’s website and its summer reading programs for adults in 2017. Call up your library directly if you run into questions or you just can’t wait to get started.
If you’re feeling even more inspired, you could reach out to local libraries for volunteer opportunities (in San Francisco, in Santa Clara, and San Mateo, to name a few). In the spirit of summer reading programs all over the Bay Area, support our wider community of minds in the search for good books, knowledge, growth, and connection. Nurturing your own spark through stories and imagination can help brighten the broader light of community.
For more ideas for how you and your loved ones can stay physically and mentally active this summer, check out more of our blog posts or reach out to us directly at Institute on Aging.

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