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Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces One Million Books Giveaway to Ensure More Children Engage In Reading This Summer

Chicago Public Library’s Largest Book Giveaway Ever: One Million Free Books for Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Commissioner Brian Bannon today announced that Chicago Public Library will give away over one million books to children across the city during Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge. Made possible through support from Chicago Public Library Foundation and partnerships with KPMG and Bernie’s Book Bank, the one million book donation is the largest book giveaway ever by Chicago Public Library, and is intended to encourage children to read more and develop their own personal library at home this summer.

Each year, Rahm’s Readers calls upon children to read at least 20 minutes per day during out of school time and participate in STEM activities, in order to prevent the “summer slide” phenomenon, where children can lose up to three months of math and science learning during summer months if they do not remain engaged in learning and brain stimulating activities.

“With this giveaway, our goal is to put a book in the hands of every child this summer, so that they can read for a minimum of 20 minutes every single day,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I want to encourage all students across the city to participate in our summer learning challenge, so that they can keep their brains engaged and prepared for success when school resumes this fall.”


For families with few or no books, the donation will ensure that children across the city have access to a diversity of reading materials so that they can benefit from the positive development and growth that regular reading provides.

Recent research supports the benefits of the Summer Learning Challenge, particularly for the most engaged children in lower grades. A recent analysis by Chapin Hall showed that children participating in the Library’s Summer Learning Challenge demonstrated 15 percent greater reading gains and 20 percent great math gains when compared to their peers who did not participate in the program.

“Summer learning loss—or the ‘summer slide’—is an issue that disproportionately impacts children already at risk for school failure. Our research suggests that Chicago Public Library’s Summer Learning Challenge offers families and students a meaningful and accessible way to narrow that gap and improve academic outcomes,” said Bryan Samuels, Executive Director of Chapin Hall.

Furthermore, national research indicates that by providing children with access to a variety of reading materials helps them grow and develop into a strong reader, and that they are more likely to read at grade level or above when they get to school. Many low-income families have less direct access to book ownership with just one book for every 300 children in low-income neighborhoods as compared with the 13 books for every child in middle-income neighborhoods. As a result, these children have far fewer literacy and language experiences at home, and may then enter school at a disadvantage.

“Now, not only are we able to combat summer learning loss through our innovative summer programming,” said Commissioner Brian Bannon, “but we’re able to put books permanently in the homes of kids thanks to generous city and corporate partners. Chicago Public Library helps make sure Chicago’s kids of all ages are school-ready.”

Mayor Emanuel is calling upon all children to participate in Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge and other programs available as part of the Chicago Summer of Learning to stay safe and engaged throughout the summer months. Each year, the Chicago Summer of Learning program allows young people ages 4 to 24 to access learning opportunities where they can earn digital badges and participate in the variety of educational experiences that Chicago has to offer.

The 2016 Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge, which is made possible through private support from Boeing, the James & Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation, and other generous supporters via the Chicago Public Library Foundation, runs from June 20 to September 1. Participants can sign up at their local library branch or find additional information at Upon signing up for this year’s Rahm’s Readers, children ages 0-5 will receive a new book donated by KPMG, and children of all ages will receive 12 new or gently-used books from Bernie’s Book Bank, through support from William Blair, when they register for the program.