Summer is the time for relaxation, vacations and warm days at the beach, but at Calvert Library, summer is also the time for reading!  In June 2017, Calvert Library unveiled its brand new reading initiative, #calvertREADS.  The idea was simple—to participate, all you had to do was read!  Throughout the summer, Calvert County residents were encouraged to read and then log their books on the library’s website.  Participants were also encouraged to create their own personal reading goal for the summer and to share this personal challenge via the library’s website and social media.

The response was overwhelming!  The Calvert County Schools helped students get registered and encouraged them to read over the summer.  Many adults challenged themselves to a summer reading goal. The overall ambition was for Calvert Library customers to read and log 30,000 books in June, July and August.  By summer’s end, readers had logged an amazing 42,469 books!  Participation came in all age groups from babies to octogenarians and from all over the county.

“We have always encouraged kids to read over the summer, but #calvertREADS represented our first county-wide, all-ages reading initiative—a challenge where all Calvert County residents were encouraged to engage in their community and share a love of reading,”  reports Melissa DeCesaris, team leader of the #calvertREADS team for Calvert Library.

After the success of the summer program, Calvert Library decided to participate in a nationwide Winter Reading Challenge from January 1 to January 31.  Billionaire investor and Shark Tank personality Mark Cuban has announced his sponsorship of the inaugural Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge in support of local libraries. Cuban has challenged close to 100 libraries all over the country to meet a collective goal of reading at least 1.3 million minutes and 55,000 books during the month of January. If achieved, Cuban pledges to donate $25,000 to First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials and other essentials to children in need.  He will also give $10,000 for the top-performing libraries to use for their community programs.

How can you help? Join library customers across the country to transform lives with the gift of reading.  If you have students in the school system, you may have already heard about the Winter Challenge.  Calvert County students and adults are urged to read and log a total of 5,000 books for the month of January as our part of the national challenge.  “We are very excited to be a part of the Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge,” says Calvert Library Director Carrie Plymire.  “Participating is a win-win-win for our customers.  You get the pleasure of reading a book, the library gets the chance to win money to support our classes and events, and nationally First Book gets a donation to provide books to low-income students.”

Calvert Library will use Beanstack, an innovative software that facilitates reading programs for schools and libraries, to make it easy to track the number of books read. “After doing a storytime for my local library, Dallas Public Library, I became increasingly inspired by the work libraries do for their communities,” says Cuban. “Growing up, my mom used to give me a quarter for every book I read. Through reading programs libraries run with Beanstack, they are providing these kinds of incentives for readers throughout the community. I love the idea that we will encourage readers through a shared, ambitious goal, and that the prize for everyone will be to pay it forward to an awesome organization focused on literacy and access to books.”

Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 170 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.

“I believe that the most powerful force in the world is empathy,” says First Book’s president, co-founder and CEO Kyle Zimmer. “It is truly an honor to be selected by libraries and to have the reward for participants’ reading be to collectively given to First Book—bringing the joy of reading through books and resources to so many more children. What a wonderful way to build empathy and community. First Book is an ardent supporter of libraries, and we are thrilled to be part of this program. We will absolutely put that $25,000 to work, serving kids in need.”

To participate in the #calvertREADS Winter Reading Challenge from January 1 to January 31, summer readers need only to sign in to their #calvertREADS account on the library’s website at and click on the 2018 Winter Challenge program to participate. Readers can expect some exciting new additions to the library’s online program including the ability to add book titles by ISBN numbers and the opportunity to add picture reviews of the titles they have logged.  Yes, you can add animated gifs!  Missed out on the summer reading fun in 2017? New participants can sign up for an account on the library’s website.  More information is available at every Calvert Library location.

So get ready to read Calvert County and join the #calvertREADS Winter Reading Challenge—after reading more than 40,000 books in the summer, 5,000 will be a breeze!