San Francisco Public Library

Summer Stride at San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Library’s 3-month long Summer Stride program encourages students and patrons of all ages to track their reading time and to stop by their neighborhood library for books, comics, ebooks, audiobooks, and more. Summer Stride includes more than 800 learning and exploration programs for the whole family, like LEGO robotics, engineering, magic, crafts, summer films, and more. A partnership with the National Park Service enhances Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) based programs, such as park ranger talks at every location and free shuttle services from branch libraries to local national parks.

Why We Plan Summer Stride

SFPL’s Summer Stride program works to combat “summer slide,” which is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. Statistics show that in low-income households, students fall behind an average of 2 months in reading during the summer. Differences in children’s summer learning experiences during their elementary school years can ultimately impact whether they earn a high school diploma and continue to college.
SFPL’s Summer Stride program not only works to strengthen a student’s literacy skills during their summer months, they also build important STEM skills and expand the notion of learning to include active exploration outside of library walls. SFPL’s summer programming focuses on youth, but also engages the entire family and adult patrons.

Partnerships That Bring Library Services Outside the Walls

Summer Stride has forged some crucial partnerships that help to emphasize “beyond the book” learning:

National Park Service

Last year, and continuing in 2017, SFPL teamed up with the National Park Service during Summer Stride to keep children and families reading, creating, and exploring all summer long. Ranger talks occurred in all 28 San Francisco Public Libraries, and patrons joined park rangers on free shuttles from nine neighborhood branch libraries to local national parks. In addition, Book Nooks distributed free books through little free libraries at the national parks. And seven branch libraries had “trailheads” installed that offered maps, reading and resources for visiting National Parks in the area.  In the words of Christine Lehnerts, Superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area: “This partnership with the San Francisco Public Library is a fantastic way for kids and their families to get to know the national parks in their backyard.”

Chronicle Books

For the past four years, we have partnered annually with Chronicle Books, a San Francisco-based publisher of books for adults and children, for the Summer Stride promotional artwork. Last year we worked with Christian Robinson, who created beautiful and fun imagery that highlighted the diversity of our communities and wide range of Summer Stride activities.

Program Impact on the Community and Staff

18,644 people participated in the 2016 program (May 7 – August 14, 2016), and 8,310 participants read 138,583 hours. Summer Stride saw a significant increase in participation from previous years, including 27% more participants, 69% more reading, and 80% more teen volunteers.

  • 26,266 youth participated
  • 59% of all participants were first time participants
  • 90% reported reading more in 2016 than the previous year
  • 84% of participants visited a local park as part of Summer Stride programming
  • 26,266 youth participated


Summer Stride includes over 800 enrichments programs that help to build 21st Century skills. Last year we held 28 ranger talks, provided 10 free shuttles to local national parks, held 7 trailheads in branch libraries, led edible excursions at the San Francisco Ferry Building, held 9 terrarium building classes, and brought our mobile kitchen, Biblio Bistro, to local farmers markets.


822 teens volunteered a total of 8,805 hours during Summer Stride.

Learn more at

San Francisco Public Library’s Summer Stride Program is a 2017 American Library Association John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award Winner.