It’s that time of year again when our nation’s youth flock to their local public libraries to participate in this year’s summer reading program. Libraries will be filled with families looking to participate in programming, reading contests, book clubs, and much more. This year’s collaborative theme is “Build a Better World,” which promotes collaboration, innovation, progression and education. Some public libraries will follow this collaborative theme while others will use their own. Either way, this is an excellent opportunity for libraries to bring communities together to pave the way for a more literate future.
Reading during the summer provides communities with many benefits. According to the American Library Association, “The benefits to readers in a summer reading program include: encouragement that reading become a lifelong habit, reluctant readers can be drawn in by the activities, reading over the summer helps children keep their skills up, and the program can generate interest in the library and books.”
Statistics and research have proven time and again that those who participate in summer reading programs benefit tremendously from a literacy standpoint and children do not fall behind by just kicking back at home all summer. For students who may be struggling during the school year, research has shown “one advantage of public library summer reading programs is that they are not located in school buildings, which helps reduce the negative perception about summer learning for students who are struggling.”
But the most important reason summer reading programs are so important and effective are for the opportunities they provide to families who are impoverished or held at a disadvantage for numerous reasons. “Numerous studies have shown that reading over the summer prevents ‘summer reading loss.’ Children living in poverty are more likely to lose reading skills over the summer than children whose families are more affluent. Some researchers estimate 50-67% of the achievement gap, for children living in poverty and for children of color, is the result of summer reading loss.” Public library summer reading programs help bridge those gaps for families who are not as fortunate.
This is why it is important for libraries and librarians to get out into the community and promote their summer programming. This reminds community members that instead of having their kids watch television all summer, they can be reading and participating in library programming that will advance them in their studies and literacy. So if you have not signed your kiddos up for the summer reading program at your local public library, please do so and help them participate in as many programs throughout the summer.
 “Why Public Library Summer Reading Programs Are Important.” http://libraries.idaho.gov/files/SRPResearchPoints2015.pdf. May 30, 2017.