For children, summer is an especially important time for reading. No longer reading what is required of them for school, which often holds little appeal, students can indulge themselves by reading whatever they please. This type of reading stretches the imagination and fosters creativity. Students who do not read over the summer experience what is known as the “summer slide.” Reading abilities can easily slip back one or two grade levels when reading is neglected over the summer. As with most things in life, a consistent practice is important, whether it is exercise, mindfulness practice, weeding in the garden, or reading. Daily reading, even for fifteen minutes, can go a long way to maintain reading levels. More time spent reading can only strengthen and advance reading abilities.
In our 21st century, information-driven society there are few opportunities for those who do not read fluently. To be able to read fluently and with a high level of comprehension means that nothing can hold you back. If you can read, you can do almost anything. Strong readers are formidable, analytic thinkers who can easily make connections with disparate ideas and concepts.
This summer’s reading program’s theme is “Build a Better World.” We build a better world through ideas and connections with others, especially those who are not like us. We think of reading as a way to build cognitive infrastructure. The library is currently signing up readers to participate in our summer reading program. The summer reading program is a way to commit to reading for the summer. Children, when they sign up for the program, commit to reading for at least 15 minutes a day. While 15 minutes is not much time to read, at least it will get children started to think about finding a way during their day to make a place for reading. While we would hope that children would read for at least an hour a day, 15 minutes a day is a good start, especially for the reluctant reader.
Weekly visits to the library in the summer should be a necessity of life. The library provides small incentives to keep kids coming week after week. Each week when a child turns in a reading log, provided the child has met the contracted reading times, he will receive a small prize as an incentive to keep reading, and he will be entered into a drawing to win a larger prize each week.