Working closely with partners, The Seattle Public Library is involved in launching virtual versions of two important learning programs, Learning Buddies and Team Read, this summer. Both programs give teens the opportunity to mentor younger children in academics, while learning on-the-job skills themselves.

“These programs have multiple levels of impact,” said Ayan Adem, Student Success Manager at The Seattle Public Library. “In a time when educational disparities are increasing, and jobs for teens are even harder to find, virtual Learning Buddies and Team Read provide an opportunity for teens to learn real job skills, while supporting children most at risk for summer slide.”


Before Library buildings closed to COVID-19, Learning Buddies was a drop-in after-school program at four Library branches that paired elementary-age students with high school mentors who helped them build math and reading skills through games and activities. Through a partnership with NewHolly and Seattle Housing Authority, the Library has created a virtual summer Learning Buddies program for teens and children at Seattle’s NewHolly community.

Ten NewHolly teens will work with up to 20 children. The teens, who receive weekly literacy and job training from librarians, meet online with the youth once a week from July 8 through Aug. 13 to play math and literacy games and connect with the kids.

Participating teens receive a stipend and a “library” of 10 books to read aloud; participating children receive five books; books are selected to represent the cultures of the children who participate. This program is supported by the Seattle Public Library Foundation.


In past summers, Team Read, a Seattle-based nonprofit, has partnered with the Library on another “dual-impact” program, which pairs trained teen coaches with struggling readers in grade 2 or 3 who have been referred by their teachers. The teens aim to help young students become confident, joyful readers, while developing work and life skills themselves.

This summer a virtual Team Read program is pairing 25 trained teen coaches with up to 100-120 youth. The teens will virtually meet with the youth three times a week for 45-minute literacy sessions from July 13 through Aug. 13. Seattle Public Schools is providing a stipend for the teens. Librarians will support the program with virtual visits and activities. The Seattle Public Library Foundation is providing funding for supplies, materials and staff involved in the program.


The Seattle Public Library is involved in other ways to serve Seattle’s children and youth this summer.

Summer of Learning 2020: Head to to download a reading log for kids, or challenge card for teens, and set your summer reading goals (you can also pick up logs at Seattle Public Schools meal sites). Find fun STEAM learning activities all summer long at the Library’s Kids’ YouTube channel.

Books to kids who need them: The Library is also distributing new books to children most in need by working with over 50 community partners.

Digital e-cards: Children and teens who are Seattle Public Schools students can access all digital Library resources, including thousands of free e-books, through the Library Link partnership. Any Seattle resident who doesn’t have a card can sign up for an e-card at