Summer Reading at the Library!
"When I step into this library, I cannot understand why I ever step out of it."
— Marie de Sevigne, French Noble 1626-1696
Grade Levels: All
As a child my mother would take me to the library nearly every week. The children's area was brightly decorated with lots of posters of popular children's books and slogans encouraging reading. As a child these items were not that motivational to me, but what did thrill me was the large, leather bean bag chair in the shape of a catcher's mitt that sat in the corner and held approximately 12 children. It was a wonderful place to gather books and lounge while discovering the joy of reading.
I was also thrilled the day I asked the librarian, "How many books am I allowed to take out?" and she replied, "There is no limit." That day I went home with the whole shelf of Encyclopedia Brown books. For the record I wasn't very good at solving the mysteries, but I sure enjoyed reading them. Libraries today have changed in a number of ways to meet the demands of our modern society, but their underlying purpose for children is still to help them discover the joy of reading. As summer approaches, many local libraries advertise special summer reading programs and activities to keep children enthusiastic about reading.
Importance of Summer Reading
- 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 gained more in reading achievement than children who did not.
- The use of the public library during the summer is more predictive of vocabulary gains than attending summer school is.
More recently Stephen Krashen, a well respected researcher in the field of language development, released a study called "Summer Reading and the Potential Contribution of the Public Library in Improving Reading for Children of Poverty" (2004). The research indicates that there is very little difference in reading gains between children from high- and low-income families during the school year.
The difference occurs over the summer when children from high-income families read more because they have more access to books. Public library reading programs provide an opportunity for low-income children to access a great number of books and it is important that library systems continue to expand their literature collections and increase the number of readability levels of text in order to provide true access to children from a variety of backgrounds. The basic premise is common sense — children who read more, get better at reading, and therefore comprehend more of what they read.
Reprinted with the permission of Colorín Colorado. © Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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