Thursday, July 10, 2008


Readers Really Do Succeed!: Summers at the Library and What Every Parent (And Grandparent) Needs to Know. M.Hudson, M.L.I.S.

What is the best deal around for families during the summer? The local public library. Each summer libraries across the country gear up for an exciting invasion of children. Special themes are adopted, libraries decorated, and the word spread that long days of reading fun are just around the corner. The best part for parents is that this exciting educational program is free. The public library has a long history of encouraging children to read; they invented the summer reading program in the 1890's. While schools teach the mechanics of reading, it is the library that encourages people to love reading for a lifetime.

Why A Summer Reading Program?Lovers of libraries have long been convinced that reading makes a difference, and now research is proving that when children are involved in library reading programs over the summer it makes a positive impact. Recent research
[1]has shown that this is indeed true. Children who read over the summer are better prepared to return to school, achieve better grades, and do not have to play "catch up" as much as those children who do not read over the summer. When children are ready to go when classes start, the teacher does not have to waste time re-teaching but can plunge right ahead into teaching the new skills for that grade!

How Do They Work? All libraries are different. Libraries are funded (usually) through property taxes and this can limit how much money can be spent on bringing in special programs, providing prizes, or even new books! Community business partners are crucial. Local businesses or professionals can support literacy in their communities by donating funds, prizes, funds for new books, or volunteers to help. About May or June, libraries begin seriously promoting summer reading programs throughout the community. If you don't see signs - ask the library! I guarantee they do not bite. If you don't have a library card the process is quick and painless. Be sure and take along some identification (driver's license and other items) to speed the process up.

How Communities Can Help? Any community concerned with improving its future will want to support the annual summer reading program among its youth (children and teens). Some libraries, because of funding, can only do a four-week program. Children, however, are out of school far longer than that. Often the children who most need to attend cannot because of lack of transportation or other issues. Community groups could work with the library to establish "satellite" reading zones in community centers, shopping centers, and local schools. Schools can assist by not only promoting the program to their students but recognizing their participation when school starts again, by opening their schools (or corner of the playground) one day a week for "storytimes" operated in collaboration with the local library's program. Community members can volunteer to be readers, help sign children up, or any of a dozen other activities that will assist in this wonderful effort to help children achieve.

Marilyn A. Hudson is experienced connecting kids, parents, and libraries as both a certified Public Librarian and a School Library Media Specialist. Her library summer programs were always vastly successful with each year bringing in more and more children."--Mary Innis

[1] Information on research :Highlights on Research on Summer Reading and Effects on Student Achievements at

[2] To locate a library near you:;; or Other locations may be located on the Oklahoma Department of Libraries online directory at

[Permission is granted to reproduce this for distribution in promoting summer reading with children and teens]

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