Summer is quickly approaching us here in Alamance County. That means different things for each of us; air conditioning, lemonade stands, fresh food from our gardens, going to the pool, BBQ’s with friends and family, vacationing, catching fireflies at dusk and so many other fond summer memory builders. It also means graduations, getting out of school for the summer and relaxing. Ah…. Free time. How to spend it? Our hope is that some of that time will be spent curled up with something good to read; maybe even from your local library! And since everyone is going to be reading anyways, we should all join the library’s Read a Million Minutes initiative and earn some cool prizes along the way.
“Build a Better World” is the theme of this year’s Summer Reading program. Our staff have created an amazing list of activities to attend, book recommendations that are out of this world, and community partnerships that you won’t believe possible through our Zoom Pass Program — all to keep readers engaged throughout the summer.
“Summer reading is more than just fun,” M.J. Wilkerson, library director says. “It’s really important for students in particular, because there is significant research that shows children who have educational opportunities available to them throughout the summer are better equipped to go back to school in the fall.” Reading throughout the summer is especially important to help students avoid skill regress. Numerous studies show that students do better in school when they keep their minds active in the summer. A study of 1,600 students showed that just 4 – 6 books over the summer helped students avoid the summer slide (student forgetting what they’ve learned the previous school year). This gives those students an advantage when they return to school in the fall, keeping reading skills fresh, and scoring better statistically on reading achievement tests.
A big part of keeping kids interested in reading during the summer is watching their parents and siblings model reading at home. This year ACPL has decided to demonstrate that very theory. We are changing our previously biennial Alamance Reads program to every year, running concurrently with the children’s Summer Reading Program. What better way to model reading and positive literacy practices than mirroring them in our offerings here at the library? We are very excited to be reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life as our Alamance Reads selection this year. Alamance Reads is a civic event designed to encourage reading and significant conversation among Alamance County by gathering people around a common book and providing a shared reading experience.
These shared experiences also showcase the growing diverse range of different voices and perspectives present in our communities. ACPL’s mission states that we “…provide learning opportunities for all members of our community to be successful in living a larger life by nurturing the heart and the mind.” I believe that having a venue to discuss topics together where diverse perspectives, cultures and values are accepted, appreciated and celebrated should be venerated. The Public Library is that place. Diversity, which includes race, ethnic origin and color, religion and creed, sexual orientation, age or ability, is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. As human beings, we are varied in a myriad of ways through intelligence, language, race, values, politics, religion, gender presentation, philosophy, and a host of other elements common to humankind. The recognition of a common humanity is the first step in the celebration of our differences.
This summer I challenge each of you to read something that will inspire you, something that will change your mind, and something that will change your world or the world around you. By participating and achieving many small individual goals, we can achieve the common goal of “Building a Better World!”
Have fun and be safe,
Jason M. Rogers
Associate Director of Community Relations
Alamance County Public Libraries
342 S. Spring St.
Burlington, NC 27215