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­­­Summer and More: Adrian’s Lifelong Journey at the Library

A summer reading champion since he was one, Adrian is reading 100 books a year—and finding his voice at the Budlong Woods branch, one program at a time.

A Summer Reading Champion is Born

For Dora and Adrian, going to the Library has been part of their routine since he was a baby. “It all started with a Mother Goose story-time! He’d sit on my lap and listen to the librarian read stories,” Dora says. “When he was about to turn one, the librarian told me I could sign him up for the summer learning challenge.”

And so, a summer learning champion was born.

Now 12, Adrian easily reads his 500 minutes every summer, switching from non-fiction books on fish to books on other sea life.

“It’s nice because it not only helps him set goals and meet them, but also avoid the summer slide.”


A recent study showed that students lost about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading during summer break. The summer learning challenge is a critical tool in helping kids stay on track and prepare for a new school year.

Adrian volunteering at the Budlong Woods Magic Show earlier this summer. Way to go, Adrian!

Where else but the Library?

But what makes summer at the Library so fun and engaging isn’t just the reading. It’s the programs, too! At the Budlong Woods branch, summer has been bustling with activity. Kids have enjoyed pre-school story times. Families are doing crafts and telling their Chicago stories together.

Adrian’s favorite summer activity? A magic show!

“They needed a 12-year-old volunteer, and he raised his hand,” Dora proudly shares. “This was a big step for him—Adrian has special learning needs, so it’s taken him a bit longer to develop public speaking skills.

“To see him feel comfortable enough to go up in front of everyone and follow the instructions was huge. It was a goal of his and he met it at where else but the Library?”


A curious and passionate learner, Adrian enjoys trying new things at the Library and then checking out books on that topic. So, after the magic show, what did he do? You guessed it—check out a book on the science of magic! “The Library always opens his world up to something new. He learns how to apply these things in his everyday life, too. I think he might be able to do a magic trick soon.”

Adrian and the Library Throughout the Years

Chicago Public Library is a community hub for Chicagoans of all ages, providing a space for them to access free learning resources and exist without judgement. For Adrian, the Library has been there throughout his educational journey allowing him to learn at his own pace.  

 “When he was younger, he struggled with sensory issues and sitting still, but the Albany Park branch had a sensory story time that encouraged him to move around and play while reading,” Dora says. “It was great having that space for him to learn in a way that resonated with him, be around similar kids and feel welcome.”

Adrian using the computer and learning at the Library!

When he was learning how to read, the Library and librarians were supportive of and patient with him. “The Library helped him get to a place where he could read and research on his own, which is very important.”

As he approaches his teen years, Dora says she knows she can count on the Library to help him learn digital media and technology on his own. “The Library is going to be a great resource as he continues to become more independent. I’m excited for him to learn how to use his Chromebook, the 3D printer, and other technology,” Dora says. “We’re so thankful for the Library—it’s been a great resource for us as parents to help him learn, research, and find himself.”

We’re so glad the Library has been a great year-round learning resource for Adrian, too!  

Special thanks to Helen M. Harrison Foundation, KPMG, Wintrust, Cubs Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Walter E. Heller Foundation, Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, and all the donors to the Chicago Public Library Foundation – for making Summer Learning at the Library possible

For $5/month, you can bring summer activities, learning resources, and educational workshops for 10 kids. Join our monthly giving community today.