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Beware the 'summer slide': Here's how Schlow Library keeps kids reading

Schlow Centre Region Library’s Summer Programs kick off on Friday.
Schlow Centre Region Library’s Summer Programs kick off on Friday. Photo provided

It’s called the “summer slide,” and it’s not something you’ll find at your favorite amusement park or playground. The phrase refers to the tendency for students to lose some of their achievement gains that they made during the previous school year.

The slide has long been a concern for educators, and it’s a big reason why many public libraries across the country have summer reading programs. Schlow Centre Region Library’s Summer Programs not only help prevent the “summer slide,” but they also have become a fun and popular activity for all to enjoy. Registration is now open for Schlow’s Summer Reading Programs, which begin Friday. The programs are for all ages, from babies to adults.

“Some kids love to read and embrace summer as a time to be able to read whatever and whenever they’d like,” said Paula Bannon, head of children’s services at Schlow. “But some children don’t find reading as enjoyable at first, and so they need a little encouragement to keep reading over the summer. That’s where summer reading comes in! By having fun reading challenges and prizes to encourage kids to read throughout the summer, we help children retain the knowledge they learned during the school year and be more ready to start the new school year.”

According to First Book, an organization based in Washington, DC, that helps distribute books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families in more than 30 countries, children who are given access to books over the course of three summers perform 35 to 40 percent better on reading achievement tests than those without.

Schlow’s Summer Reading programs offer fun and unique ways to entice kids to read. For younger kids, they can choose to simply read 20 minutes each day to earn tickets for prize drawings, they can do a SummerQuest, which encourages them to read different genres and complete fun learning activities, and they can take the Summer Reading challenge and read 3,500 pages to earn a spot at the library’s Super Readers Party in August.

Teens also can keep reading logs and do quests for chances to win one of several grand prizes, including a Nintendo Switch and an iPad.

“We know that reading over the summer is vital to preventing achievement loss and improving skills, but with teens who are not totally in love with books it can be tricky,” said adult services librarian Amy Madison. “The Summer Reading program provides incentives through prizes, which is great, but just as important is the fact that it provides goals, book suggestions, and the opportunity for engagement with other readers.”

And, of course, parents can not only participate in Summer Reading themselves but also inspire their kids.

“Let your kids see you reading,” Bannon said. “Show them that reading is an enjoyable activity for the whole family.”

To register for a Summer Reading program, visit reading.schlowlibrary.org.

David Pencek is the communications manager at Schlow Centre Region Library.
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