Branch Out

CONTACT INFORMATION: Marketing and Communications Office: 8:30–4:30 M–F
703-324-3100 TTY 711
12000 Government Center Parkway Suite 324
Fairfax, VA 22035
Ashley Atkinson
Editor, Branch Out

Adventure Awaits!

Adventure Awaits

Explore what you can do at your local library this summer!

By Ashley Atkinson, Marketing and Communications Specialist

There are so many exciting things you can do as a part of the 2024 Summer Reading Adventure – “Adventure Begins at Your Library”. Whether you are looking for a book to read, a program to attend or an experience to explore, Fairfax County Public Library (FCPL) has what you need.

Read on to discover just a few of the ways you can tap into your inner adventurer this summer:

Join Our Summer Reading Adventure

From June 12 through Aug. 18, 2024, FCPL invites readers of all ages to take part in this annual challenge where reading books – or for a certain amount of time – and completing activities can earn YOU amazing prizes.

Readers are divided into categories for the adventure based on age: Youth (Birth-2nd grade and 3rd-6th grade), Teen (7th-12th grade) and Adult. Each age category has their own age-appropriate goals to complete the adventure. Once you have met your goals, stop by any FCPL branch to pick up your prizes!

Learn more about our Summer Reading Adventure, including how to sign up using Beanstack or print paper logs (you can also pick these up at your local branch), at

Participate in a Contest

Throughout the year, FCPL celebrates the talents of Fairfax County community members with contests and this summer is no different!

First up, running June 12 through Aug. 16, is the Teen Chopped Challenge. Based on the popular tv show “Chopped,” this culinary adventure of a contest challenges Fairfax County teens between the ages of 12 and 18 to create a unique and innovative recipe utilizing three mystery ingredients. Participants then submit their recipe and a photo of their creation through an online submission form to be judged. To help get you started, a limited number of ingredient kits will be available at six FCPL branches beginning June 12 on a first-come-firstserve basis. Even if you are unable to snag a kit, you are still welcome to participate!

More information, including contest rules and which branches are giving out kits, can be found at Learn about and register for the Teen Chopped Challenge Kick-Off and Cooking Basics programs there too!

In July, aspiring writers of all ages can flex their skills in FCPL’s second annual “The World We Write” Short Story Contest. Previously open only to adults, this year we are inviting school-age children and teens to join in on the fun. Using one of five preselected prompts, write a 250- word short story and submit it online to be judged. Three winners will be chosen from each age group (3rd-6th grade, 7th-12th grade and adults).

Sound like something you might be interested in? View the rules and read the prompts at

Go on a StoryWalk

FCPL’s StoryWalks combine the joys and benefits of reading and taking a walk outdoors into one family adventure. Created in 2007 by Anne Ferguson in Montpelier, Vermont, these self-directed learning opportunities consist of a deconstructed children’s book. Each page of the book is mounted separately on a sign or placard and families walk along a path from one page to the next to read the story. The interactive trails build children’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activity for both children and adults. We currently offer StoryWalks at Chantilly Regional Library and Martha Washington Library.

Attend an Adventure-Related Program

FCPL is making adventure more accessible by partnering with community organizations to offer fun, exciting programs for all ages conveniently located at your local library. Looking to take a trip back to a time long, long ago? Learn about the prehistoric eras with the help of Dinoman Dinosaurs. Want to explore your artistic side this summer? In that case, you don’t want to miss our ArtSplash programs for teens. Or perhaps you want to sit back and relax while the kids listen and dance to fun music? Then our Rocknoceros concerts are for you! FCPL even offers adventurous outings for our adult visitors. From African drumming to stargazing at Turner Farm, there is something for everyone to enjoy! Check out our Summer Reading Adventure programming calendar by visiting

Explore the Outdoors with the Library of Things

Take your adventures elsewhere too! FCPL’s Library of Things is a collection of nontraditional library items available for cardholders to borrow and take home for use like they would a book. Items in the collection that may be of particular interest to emerging explorers include our nature backpacks, binoculars and light pollution monitoring kits.

Our I Love Virginia State Parks Nature Backpacks have everything your family needs for an outdoor adventure. These bags are full of educational materials and tools for budding naturalists such as binoculars; pocket guides to weather, medicinal plants, animal tracks and Virginia wildlife; a port-a-bug field observation container; a dip net; and laminated sheets with suggested activities designed by both Virginia State Parks and the Science Museum of Virginia. Best of all, the packs include a free parking pass to any Virginia State Park. That’s 42 different parks to explore!

In addition to the pair included in our nature backpacks, FCPL also has standalone sets of binoculars available. These binoculars are more powerful and sturdy than those in the backpacks, which are ideally meant for children. Thus, the standalone binoculars are better suited for adult adventurers and those pursuing activities where you need to see farther, such a birding and stargazing.

The newest addition to FCPL’s Library of Things collection encourages everyone to discover the adventure of being a citizen scientist. The Light Pollution Monitoring Kits, also known as dark skies kits, include materials that allow borrowers to measure light pollution in their communities. Read here for more information!

Read an Adventurous Book

Adventure isn’t found only by going out and seeking new experiences, activities or thrills. Find excitement in the comfort of home with the help of a good book. Reading can take you to places you can only dream about! Experience all the emotions of a treacherous journey without any real danger. Live in the shoes of people whose lives are different from your own and encounter perspectives you may have never considered. These too are adventures in their own right and can be just as rewarding as those we pursue outside our home. Don’t forget, these adventures also count toward your Summer Reading goals! To help you find an adventurous read, FCPL has compiled a list of suggested books for all ages with one over-arching theme – ADVENTURE! Check out the list and place a hold on something that interests you by visiting

Fairfax Virtual Assistant