Summer of Wonder: We're Halfway Through!

By Emily S. RSS Tue, July 11, 2023

Neighborhood libraries have been busy this summer happily welcoming our patrons! As we get back to full staffing levels and resume Saturdays at select branches, it has been so wonderful to see our communities returning to in-person programming. Library staff and community performers have come together to create a Summer of Wonder brimming with unique opportunities. 

So far this summer, we've celebrated Pride Month across the system and honored the Juneteenth holiday, met farm animals and reptiles, created ceramics and jewelry, tried new recipes and circus moves, played games, made music, and enjoyed stories from around the world. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us!

Kicked Off To A Great Start

At Cecil B. Moore Library, patrons of all ages came out on June 10 to celebrate the Summer of Wonder. Families enjoyed enchanting tales from renowned local storyteller Mama Carla Wiley. Kids emerged from the face-painter's chair looking fierce and fantastical, with reptilian skin and butterfly masks. Others sported airbrushed temporary tattoos. Many indulged in a pretzel or ice cream break, while others won books and prizes playing the library’s version of Wheel of Fortune. Mayor Kenney recollected meeting both Senator John Lewis and Cecil B. Moore himself in that very building. Kelly Richards spoke genuinely of his love of libraries, and he was very proud of his airbrushed Batman tattoo!


Kelly Richards getting temporary tattoo


The event was a culmination of the Free Library’s inaugural Week of Play, a week-long event series focused on playful learning that took place in neighborhood libraries across the city. It was an excellent way to mark the start of Summer of Wonder, and it was only the beginning.


Family enjoys Summer of Wonder kickoff library event outside
Family enjoys Summer of Wonder kickoff library event


Summer of Wonder Online

Online, our Virtual Summer of Wonder participants have earned 3,700 hundred badges, and read nearly 2,000 books in over 111,000 minutes — and that’s just since we started in June! They’ve taken part in Celebrate Pride Month, and they’ve only just begun with Science is Everywhere, a virtual activity adventure allowing us to practice the fascinating art of scientific exploration right here in our city. Sign up today to make observations, and learn about the weather, insects, the elements, light and shadow, and more amazing parts of life here on this wild Earth.


Summer of Wonder Online Beanstack promo


In summer camps around the city, camp leaders and kids have signed up to join the Summer Camp Challenge! With a pledge to infuse each camp day with 60 minutes of playful literacy, campers read, write, and play their way toward stronger learning skills and more confidence in their abilities. The Free Library teams up with camps, providing materials and support to help them incorporate literacy activities into their already robust programming. Are you a camp leader who’s interested in helping kids fight the “summer slide?” We have a few spots left and scholarships available! Reach out to to learn more. In the meantime, enjoy our list of selected read-aloud titles available in this year’s Camp Challenge Toolkit and, of course, at your local library. 

Still To Come

There’s plenty of summer yet to come! Summer of Wonder continues in-person at branches until August 11 and virtually until August 31. That means there is still plenty of time to sign up at your neighborhood library or online to earn prizes and join in the fun!

Be sure to check out our in-person Science in the Summer events geared toward school-aged kids. Science in the Summer is a fun, free STEM program aiming to inspire the next generation of scientists. This year’s programming is physics-themed, and budding scientists can try on the skills needed to be laser scientists, sound engineers, accident investigators, power plant engineers, and more!

Looking for some fun on wheels? Join the Children’s Department at Parkway Central for their Month of Buses. This series of Thursday events in August will feature some fabulous guests, including the Tri-State Gamerz Mobile Video Game Theater, the Traveling Treehouse Bookmobile, Jumpstart Philadelphia, and a chance to flex your creative skills and paint the art bus with The Doodlery Art.

If creativity is calling, you can also join us for a Summer of Wonder virtual activity adventure and Write a Super Graphic Novel! Imagine when you tell your future friends that this is how it all started. Get inspired online with activities and badges to lead you through the drafting process during the month of August.

What was your favorite part of summer at the library so far? Your pals at Youth Services want to know!

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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