Summer Reading at the Library! (page 4)
"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.
Library summer reading programs
Most libraries kick off a summer reading program that involves children registering as part of the program and receiving a "reading log" and perhaps some other small gifts, such as bookmarks and pencils. Children are encouraged to read as much as possible and enter the names of the books in their log to be turned in at the end of summer for a prize. In my experience this hasn't been a strict competition, but rather a chance to offer praise and recognition for a child's dedication to reading over the summer.
I believe my own children lost their reading logs and the kind librarian let them "fill in" the books they remembered reading that summer in order to get a certificate and prize. The Bright Ideas Hotlinks section has links to library system websites from many of the larger cities across the nation. If you don't see your local library system listed, please take a moment to search for your library's website and explore the resources available to help your students discover the joys of summer reading.
Library Resources and ELL students
Some ELL students may have limited experience with libraries in their own countries due to the lack of a library or membership fees. It is especially helpful if the students can take a field trip to a local library to get library cards and a tour of the resources and materials that might be interesting to them. Students may be excited to discover free internet access, computer programs, music, various technologies, English language conversation circles, museum passes, and of course, books (both bilingual and English.)
It is important to encourage students to read in their native language if materials are available. Although it seems counter-intuitive, students who read in their first language actually gain stronger reading and comprehension skills in English. The main idea is — if children read a lot, they will be better readers, no matter what language. If you are not sure what resources may be available for your students it is a good idea to call your library system's central offices and ask about bilingual programming, resources, and even the possibility of setting up a classroom visit from a librarian who can register the students for library cards.
Many libraries also have a section of "high interest/low readability" books that ELL students may enjoy because they can read the stories easily and won't get bogged down in difficult vocabulary or grammar structures.
Although there is a lot of focus on summer reading for elementary aged children, there are often programs and resources for teens as well. This can be an important connection for teens. The summer before 7th grade, I moved to a totally new neighborhood and didn't have a chance to make any friends since I arrived after school let out. My next door neighbor was a girl my same age, and my mother kept encouraging me to "get together" with her. I was too old to just "play" so I invited her to the library.
At first our walks to the library were awkward without much to talk about, but as we kept returning to check out more books we discovered each others interests and talked about the stories we liked. The library provided a free, safe, accessible place for us to hang out, and it helped that it was air-conditioned! Many libraries have "teen centers" or areas where they have located the kinds of books, magazines and other materials that teens will enjoy. For teachers who work with teen-age students it is a good idea to introduce or re-introduce them to these excellent library resources because many may feel they have "grown out of" the library.
When I work with teachers on ELL reading instruction and appropriate materials, I always end by telling them, "All of these methods and materials are useful, but more importantly, if you can help a child discover the joy of reading — then you have truly succeeded because that child will continue to read and develop their skills over a lifetime." As schools let out for the summer all over the nation, I hope that students and teachers alike find the time to slow down for a bit, find a good book, and read. Happy reading!
- Minneapolis, MN Public Library Search of bilingual resources
A search list of bilingual resources available at the Minneapolis Public Library that shows resources in many languages such as: Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, German, Hopi, Hmong, Somali, Spanish, Thai and much more….
- Bringing up Baby Bilingual: Resources for bilingual education, foreign language
Website with many links to research, articles and useful links to support bilingual language development.
- Kentucky Libraries
Link to the Kentucky reading program Spanish bilingual reading list.
- Washington, DC Libraries - Teens
Links to the "Holla' Back" Teen reading program.
- Albuquerque, NM Library
Link to the "Read 2 the Beat" summer reading program with information on prizes and library events.
- Santa Fe, NM Library
Link to the childrens' page with lists of high interest kid websites and award winning books.
- Phoenix, AZ Public Library - Teens
Links to "Teens Page" with an E-Zine, a blog and the "Read Your ?#@!& Head Off" program.
- Phoenix , AZ Public Library - Kids
Links to "Kids Page," with a featured weekly comic book installment, downloadable movies, music and e-books.
- New York, NY Public Library - Kids
Links to the "Kids Reading" section of the website. Includes links to online e-books for kids and helpful links for parents and educators.
- New York, NY Public Library - Teens
Links to the "Teen Link" webpage, includes free music and video downloads, homework help and online recordings of teens sharing their thoughts.
- San Francisco, CA Library
Links to the "Get a Clue@Your Library" summer reading program.
- San Diego, CA Library
Links to the San Diego libraries "Get a Clue@Your Library" summer reading program and the "YNK — You Never Know@Your Library" teen reading program.
- Los Angeles, CA Library
Links to the "I Spy" summer reading program and has a link to "tumblebooks," online, animated books.
- Dallas, TX Library
Links to the "Mayor's Summer Reading Program" and includes information on other resources and bilingual storytimes.
- Austin, TX Library
Links to the "Sail Away with Me" summer reading program information.
- Minneapolis, MN Public Library
Links to the home page and from there you can click on links to the summer reading club information, download movies, elementary and teen section, and immigrant resources.
Reprinted with the permission of Colorín Colorado. © Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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