Children’s Summer Reading Program

School has been dismissed for this academic year. When I was a child, this momentous occasion was marked by rushing home the last day and tossing anything school-related into the nearest closet. It remained there until late August, when Mom began to compile everything I would need for the upcoming year. Summer days were filled with riding bicycle, playing games with neighborhood kids and catching fireflies. I was definitely having fun and growing socially. But what about my intellectual and educational needs? Were they being met, or at the very least maintained?

In my case, my parents were very proactive by taking me to the Library and keeping me supplied with fresh reading material. Unfortunately though, many children don’t receive this opportunity. Research has shown that many students experience a loss in reading and comprehension abilities over the summer months. This is often referred to as the “summer slide or set-back”. Children from low-income families often lose nearly three months of grade-level equivalency during the summer months each year. Middle-income children average one month of abilities lost. This is according to a May/June 2003 Instructor Magazine article titles, “Bridging the Summer Reading Gap”.

Summer reading programs try to combine academic activities and basic childhood learning methods in a way that is fun, yet educational. Children come to the Library expecting to have fun, and they do! Class sessions are filled with games, crafts and hands-on projects. At the same time, students are learning various skills without even realizing it.

Class time may be the only hour each week that students who live in rural areas of the county have the opportunity to socialize with their peers. Class sizes vary according to enrollment, however typically average 25 attendees per session.

Reading several books during the course of the program is encouraged, but certainly not mandatory. Each child reads at his or her own pace. The little reader who completes one book is praised just as much as the tween who completes ten. The ultimate goal at the end of the program is for each student to maintain his or her level of knowledge for the upcoming school year.

In a book titled, “The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research” by Stephen Krashen, the following key points are made:

Reading gets better when it is practiced.
Reading helps improve writing style.
Children read more when they listen to and discuss stories.

Students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills. Do you have a son, daughter, grandchild or neighbor child who might benefit from this type of program? If so, I encourage you to plan to participate this summer at the Guernsey County District Public Library. Registration will begin May 30th.

Happy Reading!