The Importance of Summer Reading Programs

If you’ve been anywhere near a public library during the months of June, July and August, you probably noticed the increase in noise and excitement as young children and their parents and caregivers flock to their local libraries. Summer reading plays a major role in public library programming.  It is important because it provides more than just something for parents to do with bored children.

Research shows we all tend to learn more slowly in the summer.  But some students do worse than simply slow down – they actually go into reverse and lose most of the reading skills they gained during the school year.  Children who don’t read over the summer tend to lose literacy skills while children who do read during the summer actually improve their reading ability.  Summer learning losses accumulate over several years and are an important contributor to the achievement gap.  The State Library of North Carolina found that the number of books read during the summer is consistently related to academic gains.  Children in every income group who read six or more books over the summer gain more in reading achievement than children who do not.  Children who participate in a summer reading program often develop a lifelong habit of reading, while reluctant readers may be drawn in to the joy of reading through the various activities offered.

This year’s Summer Reading theme is “Fizz, Boom, Read”.  Children’s staff are busy preparing science based programs guaranteed to delight and amaze children of all ages.  We have scheduled a variety of performers such as Mad Science, Rags to Riches Theater, and the Museum of Natural History.  A new aspect to our Summer Reading Program will be keeping up with how long you read.  When participants read a total of 60 minutes, they may receive a prize.  There are 4 levels for a total of 160 minutes.  Readers will be able to track their progress online.

But the Summer Reading program isn’t just for kids.  We have many activities planned for teens and adults. Don’t forget about our annual Mystery Night, held the last Friday and Saturday in July!  Tickets for this go fast, so be sure to check with your local branch to find out when they will be available.  They are free, but you must have a ticket to attend Mystery Night.

We look forward to a busy summer and hope you will join us as we celebrate the love of reading and libraries.

I am reading Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind Than Home and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Out of the Deep I Cry.

May 7, 2014
M.J. Wilkerson

Director, Alamance County Public Libraries