EDUCATION experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backward.
For many children, however, summer means taking a break from the daily academic routine. So, how can parents keep their children reading and learning all summer long? According to Reading is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization, parents should take their children to the library.
The Guam Public Library System (GPLS) hosts an annual summer reading program called the Summer Reading Club that encourages and rewards children for summer reading. This year’s theme is “Dream Big and Read.” The SRC will run from June 11 to July 26. Parents who would like for their children to participate in this wonderful program can register them at their nearest GPLS branch or the Bookmobile until June 16. The kickoff will be held at the main library in Hagåtña on June 9 at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Frankie Aflague, the program’s coordinator at 475-4766, call or visit your nearest library branch, or email: gpls[at]gpls.guam.gov.
Parents who cannot commit to the SRP’s schedule should still check the library’s calendar for special summer reading-related activities and events, such as arts and crafts, puppet shows, special guest readers, and magic shows in which their children can participate.
In addition to giving kids the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, learn new skills, and read some great material, summer library visits offer a wide range of benefits for the whole family. Below are some reasons mentioned in "Read All About It," RIF's Newsletter, March/April 2012 why families should incorporate regular trips to the library into their summer plans.
- Going to the library takes the guesswork (and pressure) out of choosing books for kids. Librarians and other professionals and volunteers are available to assist parents and guide children in their reading selections.
- Library visits give parents a chance to spend quality time with their kids.
Benefits for kids
- Participating in a summer reading program can be fun, rewarding, and challenging.
- When children are given the opportunity to choose what they want to read, they're more likely to enjoy reading and make it a habit.
- Library visits may give kids an opportunity to use computers, research on the internet, and socialize with peers.
Something for everyone
- Some libraries have summer reading programs just for teens, with activities that appeal to their specific interests and educational needs. Some activities may include mystery nights, creative dramatics, poetry slams, arts and crafts, or talent shows.
- Libraries often recruit teens to volunteer in their youth summer reading programs as storytellers, administrative assistants, or helpers for organized activities.
Bringing families together
- The library is a place the whole family can visit together.
- Parents and kids can check out books, or books-on-tape, to take on family vacations.
- Older children may also want to read library books to younger siblings.
Whether parents engage their children in organized library activities or simply let kids choose their own reading materials from the library, they can be assured that children who read during the summer months will keep or enhance reading skills learned during the school year that otherwise would be lost.
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 22 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at]yahoo.com with your questions or comments.