Summer reading program fills vital need

Published 9:09 am Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our View
While many think of summer as a time to kick back, others see it as a time to pick up the pace.
The iconic “summer reading” program at the Elizabethton-Carter County Library has long been a programming staple intended to maintain the connection between kids and books while school is out.
Fueled by reading lists and special programs, summer reading has changed lives and succeeded in being an essential bridge between one school year and the next, especially for disadvantaged kids. Every Tuesday, kids have an opportunity to be a part of a reading program that exposes them to adventure, new characters and authors, and friends. Among the new adventures this summer will be the opportunity to work in the library’s summer garden and to nurture it and watch it grow.
Summer learning is a must. It reframes the library as a place to experience and learn, expanding offerings to get kids engaged, with its hands-on approach. Summertime is especially critical for students to polish their reading skills. It is estimated that the average summer learning loss for American students in math and reading amounts to one month per year. Unfortunately, the problem disproportionately affects lower-income students.
Lower-income students can lose two months of reading skills while upper-income students who have ready access to books and enriching summer vacations can experience gains according to the National Summer Learning Association, a nonprofit devoted to closing the achievement gap.
Losses from summer after summer of watching television and playing video games are accumulative, and by middle school, years of vacation couch-sitting can leave low-income students behind their peers. Summer-learning shortfalls can cascade and ultimately affect a child’s ability to earn a high school diploma and continue on to college.
Summer learning loss is a problem schools must confront every August. The first four to six weeks after the start of a new school year is often spent reteaching students skills they learned in the previous grade but forgot over the summer.
Summer is a good time to help the very youngest kids hold onto basic literary skills. Teens can curl up with a book without fear of having to write a report about it.
The importance of strong literacy skills cannot be overstated. The ability to read is a requisite to mastering other core subjects, including math.
The Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library Summer Reading Program is a good way to avoid the summer slide when it comes to reading and learning. The library offers an early literacy program for children from birth to pre-kindergarten and a children’s program for older kids. Library staff can also provide a summer reading list for your children.
We encourage kids to keep cracking the books over the next few weeks, to make the summer a reading adventure. Parents can inquire at the local library for local programs and activities as well as reading lists.
Students need time off to recharge in the summer months, but they should have an opportunity to learn new information and engage in critical thinking.
We invest so much in our students during the school year. As parents and a community, we can’t afford to neglect summer as a time of learning.

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