From free t-shirts, to movie passes, to ice cream, Kansas libraries are once again enticing Kansas kids to participate in summer reading. Prizes are popular, but the real winners are the youngsters who maintain and improve their reading skills over the summer.
“Summer is a great time to kick back with a book! It’s even more important for kids to pick up a book over the hot summer months,” said State Librarian Jo Budler. “At risk for all students is a year’s worth of learning that some studies show dissipates over the summer when a student doesn’t keep reading. It’s characterized as the “summer slump!”
“Research shows that the summer slump affects children at every ability level, but the problem is more acute for struggling readers,” Budler added.
While youngsters have many enjoyable summer distractions to choose from – swimming, camp, movies – thousands of Kansas kids choose to participate in summer reading programs at their local library.
In 2010, over 76,000 children participated in a Kansas library-sponsored summer reading program, plus another 12,389 teens jumped on the bandwagon. In all 88,789 children and teens participated statewide in 2010. These programs were delivered at 312 out of 321 Kansas community libraries.
Local libraries step up to the plate and are tracking their impact. The Topeka/Shawnee County Public Library surveyed readers (in 2010) and discovered that kids who read for at least 12 hours in their program were able to maintain or improve reading scores in the fall. The Topeka library relies heavily upon generous community support for prize donations, and on their Foundation and Friends groups for financial backing.
Anecdotal reports for 2011 indicate that the number of libraries and the number of youngsters participating in summer reading is on the rise. Manhattan Public Library reports “a record-breaking year, following huge increases last year.” Smaller libraries, such as Herington Public Library have added a second story hour over the summer to handle the crowds.
Libraries are also reporting the creation of new partnerships in their communities have allowed the expansion of programming and attracted additional youngsters. The convenience of online registration has made participation easier as well.
Kansas libraries will complete their summer reading programs over the next several weeks and report 2011 numbers to the State Library.