Community Education News

Two in Tow & On the Go: Library offers prizes for summer readers

Posted on June 30th, 2023 By:
mom and two kids under yellow banner at library entrance

Tonya, Clara and Wyatt head into the Gig Harbor Library last week to pick up reading logs for this year’s Pierce County Library Summer Reading Program. | Photo by Tonya Strickland

With longer days, warmer weather, and hopefully an epic beach day or two, summer break in Gig Harbor returns with an enthusiastic nudge to gear up for a literary adventure and read, read, read.

The Pierce County Library Summer Reading Program is back, running now through Aug. 31. Participation in the three-month program is free and challenges readers of all levels to read every day, track their progress, and trade in their tallies for cool prizes at the end.

Complimentary in-person events are also part of the fun in June, July, and August including craft sessions, storytimes, book talks, movie days, and more. (Events are free but some require registration).  Check the event calendar to see what’s happening at each of the county’s 19 branches, or use the location filter to see what’s happening at just the Gig Harbor branch. These special summer sessions like Gig Harbor’s Outdoor Family Story Time @ Civic Center Green Park, celebrate the program’s overall theme “All Together Now” to encourage human connection through the love of reading over summer break.

Read on for all the deets on how to participate in this county-wide reading challenge.

woman hands out paper booklets to two kids next to a bookshelf

Gig Harbor Library associate Karen Ford, left, handed out paper reading logs to Clara and Wyatt last week.

Summer reading programs exist so kiddos of the school-age variety avoid the “summer slide,” a research-backed notion that says students lose some of what they learned in school over summer break. But fear not — this very scenario has been combatted by decades of literacy superheroes who swoop in nationwide with activity-rich, reward-based summer reading programs since the 1890s! 

In fact, educators have long said reading helps young minds hold tight to their school year learning gains — setting them up for success each fall.

Here at the Two In Tow household, we’re all for this summertime book boost. Although … even without summer reading incentives, we’d probably still be chillin’ in the pig pen with Fern and Wilbur with E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web;” or rip-roarin’ across the plains from the dusty shirt pocket of The Big Friendly Giant with Roald Dahl’s “The BFG.” That said, I’m a sucker for a print product, so you bet we were asking the Gig Harbor Library’s front desk peeps all about the 2023 activity books as soon as school let out. Not to mention, the summer reading program prizes here are ah-maz-ing. 

How to Participate

  1. Room with bookshelves and two kids holding books

    photo by Tonya Strickland

    Commit to reading, even a little bit, at least once a day through Aug. 31. (Backtracking your progress from June 1 is A-OK if you haven’t started yet).

  2. Choose how to track your progress — either online by downloading the free Beanstack* app or tallying on paper reading logs printed inside special grab-and-go activity books customized to various reader stages:

    Alternatively, you can download the logs at the above reader links to print at home; or request physical copies to be tucked into your next library curbside pickup order. 

  3. Read, listen, then read some more. The program is designed for enjoyment, so all reading materials count. Yep, that means print books, e-books, audiobooks, comics, magazines, grandma’s old recipe cards — whatever! Being read to and reading to someone — even your cat — are all awesome choices worthy of your daily tally. (Pssst: Anyone else totally want to read grandma’s old recipe cards to their cat now? Just me?)
  4. Head into your local Pierce County Library before Aug. 31 with your snazzy completed reading log all filled out (plus an included program survey) and receive a fun prize.
Room with bookshelves and kids books displayed

2023 Book Prize Examples!

2023 Prizes*  

  • Babies & Toddlers: up to two free board books
  • Kids & Tweens (ages 3 to 12): up to three free books and a free pass to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium or Northwest Trek
  • Teens (ages 13 to 18): up to three free books and a raffle entry to win a $50 gift card
  • Adults: Raffle entry to win a $25 gift card
  • Beanstack users of all ages: Raffle entry to win a $25 gift card

*To receive the free book prize, readers must be physically present at the library with their paper log or device with the Beanstack tracker to show.

Our Experience

A round button in focus with a brick library building in the background

Gig Harbor Library, photo by Tonya Strickland

Clara, Wyatt, and I participated in Pierce County Library’s 2022 Summer Reading Program from its Gig Harbor branch. And we wholeheartedly recommend this program. From our experience, it has a good mix of catering individual activity content by a participant’s age and every kid gets a prize (while supplies last) instead of being entered into a raffle for just a chance at prizes (which I think may be the case for adults and teens however). Last year, the kids happily colored on the activity log’s thoughtfully layout of game pages, doodled in its margins, and circled all the cool big-kid words in the vocab word search.

By the end of summer, the kids filled those little booklets to the brim with their reading progress using aaaall their colored markers (No, seriously — Every. Last. Marker), proudly showed the librarian, and took home free books and a sweet family pass** to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park at the county’s south end.

**Summer Reading Program rules: Living in Pierce County or having a Pierce County Library card isn’t required to participate in Summer Reading activities. But to win prizes, you do need to live in Pierce County, have a Pierce County Library card, or live in the service area of one of our reciprocal library systems.

Check out the other Summer Reading Program rules in the FAQ section at the bottom of this page.

JUST FOR FUN: stay updated with more Gig Harbor Library happenings with the Friends of the Gig Harbor Library Facebook page.

Mom and two kids standing with water and boats in the background.


Tonya Strickland is a Gig Harbor mom-of-two, longtime journalist, and Instagram influencer in the family and travel niche. Her blog, Two in Tow & On the Go, was recently named among the 10 Seattle-Area Instagram Accounts to Follow by ParentMap magazine. Tonya and her husband Bowen recently moved to Gig Harbor from California with their two kids, Clara (9) and Wyatt (7). When they’re not adventuring, Tonya stays busy navigating how umbrellas are unacceptable life choices now, giant house spiders exist but only in September, and that salted parking lots are absolutely not weird at all. Find her on Instagram  and Facebook  for all the kid-friendly places in and around Gig Harbor.