Author Henry James wrote “Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.” To me, the two most beautiful words in the English language are “Summer reading – summer reading.” Summer reading often synonymous with lazy, sleepy summer afternoons, is, for children, a time when school work, finished for the year, can be left behind, and instead, children have the leisure to explore their own interests as they meander through books that speak in ways that required reading never can. To pick a book of one’s own choosing is a way of taking charge of one’s destiny.
In our 21stcenturyknowledge economy, information is a significant tool. To make most information comprehensible requires the ability to read well. Although we also live in a world of many different kinds of media streams, the ability to read is still the one skill that ensures a successful life. There is no career advancement that does not require an ability to read well. With everything we do well, practice is required. Whether it is kicking or hitting a ball, playing an instrument or any other activity that can be mastered, practice is the key. Summer reading is a form of practice. Being really good at reading means that it comes easily. One arrives there by practicing
There are countless studies on why summer reading for children is so important. The prime reason is what has come to be called the “summer slide.” Children who do not read during the summer can easily lose a grade level or two which then requires several months once school begins to regain. While there are many other forms of entertainment available to children in our age of streaming media, there is no more pleasurable entertainment than a book to put the reader in a world never before imagined—primarily through words and the imagination of the reader, and perhaps even more important, an intimate exposure to another way of thinking. A mind that cultivates imagination, that knows worlds beyond, and that dreams, is a powerful one.
There is no better gift to give a child than the love of reading. If a child does not regularly go to the library, the child is being cheated out of something intrinsic to life. When I hear parents say that they have time for sports but not for reading, I cringe. There is room for both in a child’s life. But the skill that will take a child farther than can be imagined is the skill of reading.
It costs nothing to use the library, but the return is priceless. While so many other activities for children are costly, summer reading is completely free. At the library, summer reading comes with prizes and other fun activities to give children incentives to come to the library, check out books, and read.