For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

Free Library's Summer of Wonder Kicks Off

The Library and its partners work to spread literacy across the city and prevent summer learning loss

PHILADELPHIA, May 29, 2019—The Free Library of Philadelphia kicked off the 2019 Summer of Wonder on Wednesday, May 29 at the Parkway Central Library. With a theme of “Read and Explore,” this year’s summer learning initiative aims to encourage all Philadelphians to read for fun and to explore learning opportunities during the summer months. Studies indicate that students who read 20 minutes a day over their school vacation can prevent summer learning loss and even make gains in their reading levels.

The Free Library’s Summer of Wonder takes place from June 3 through August 3, and combines reading with special events and activities for Philadelphians of all ages. This flagship Free Library program supports literacy in Philadelphia by encouraging more than 35,000 children, teens, and adults to read and participate in library programming during the summer months.

Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon opened the kickoff, along with Mayor Jim Kenney and Wells Fargo Greater Philadelphia Region Bank President Joseph Kirk. Wells Fargo is a presenting sponsor of the summer learning program and has generously supported the initiative for over 20 years. In addition to enjoying special story sessions, students at the kickoff participated in a craft workshop hosted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Phillie Phanatic read with the kids.

“Summer of Wonder is one of the most important programs the Library hosts, because it creates a fun and effective way for students to fight ‘summer slide,’ when children can lose two to three months of reading and math skills. We offer an engaging way for children to explore, create, and boost learning during the crucial summer months,” Reardon said. 

Parents can register their children, from birth to 12th grade, for programs at their neighborhood libraries. Participants will be inspired by engaging in fun activities and programs, earning prizes, and discovering and learning through reading. Adults can also participate at select neighborhood libraries, where there will be special raffles for reading, library events, and more.

There is also an online version of Summer of Wonder for children of all ages, which runs June 1 through August 31. Participants earn badges online by tracking minutes read and completing fun Discovery Path activities themed around STEAM, literacy, and exploration. They can also select reading materials from School District of Philadelphia suggested booklists, submit book reviews, and explore more in-depth themed learning guides. Every time participants earn a badge, they will be entered into a weekly raffle to earn prizes, as well as be eligible for a special end-of-summer grand finale prize raffle.

The Library is also supporting summer learning through the Free Library Summer Camp Challenge initiative, which works with more than 100 summer camps to infuse reading into the camp day. The Summer of Wonder and the Summer Camp Challenge are both part of the Read by 4th campaign, a citywide effort of over 100 organizations convened and managed by the Free Library that aims to significantly increase the number of students in Philadelphia entering the 4th grade at reading level. Read by 4th partner organizations throughout the city—including Tree House Books and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation—are all helping to support learning in their communities. Read by 4th also encourages families to try simple ways to foster summer learning, such as asking children to write grocery lists, read recipes, and play word-search games. For more ideas on how to support summer learning, families can visit

The Library is especially grateful to presenting sponsors Wells Fargo, the Philadelphia City Institute Board of Managers, Kline & Specter, and Comcast NBCUniversal.  In-kind sponsors include the the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Herr’s Foods®, and the Philadelphia Phillies.

“We want Philadelphia to be a city of readers, and there is no better time to develop that habit than when students are in grade school,” said Wells Fargo’s Joe Kirk. “We know that reading on grade level is a strong indicator of future success in school, and in life, and that is why we are proud to partner with the Free Library on this vital program, which is also a lot of fun for participants.”     

For more information and to sign up for the Summer of Wonder, visit, call 215-686-5372, or visit your neighborhood library.

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About the Free Library

The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and The Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 31,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi, including neighborhood Hot Spots; and rich special collections, including those at the Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach. With more than 5 million in-person visits and 5 million more online annually, the Free Library and The Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850