Is Summer Reading worth the bother?

I know, I know, you’re supposed to wait until July before you start having thoughts like that! We are 18 days into our program, with 1200+ signed up, and already we are getting a little tired, a little cranky. So it might be a good time to think just a moment about why we go to all this trouble.

Sure, there’s plenty of research to show how important it is for kids to keep reading during the break from school. The Alaska State Library put out an excellent list of articles on reading over the summer. Intuitively, we know that kids who stop reading over the summer will lose ground, and increasingly we can’t assume that reading is one of the things families automatically do when they have time. As parents devote less time to reading, so do their kids. So keeping up reading skills over the summer is important, but is it enough to make all the effort worthwhile?

Frankly no–developing reading skill is more the domain of the school reading specialist or media specialist, and I am a public librarian. What I want is for kids to love reading, and I’m not nearly as interested in scores and reading levels.

No, the thing that makes it worth the effort for me is I want kids to come into the library over the summer and for that experience be one of their fondest memories of growing up. I want them to remember as adults that feeling of walking into a cool library on a hot summer day. I want them to remember talking to the nice librarians and volunteers. I want them to remember that feeling of abundance when they walk out of the library with a stack of books that look exciting. I want them to recall signing up for summer reading as a treat to look forward to each summer. I want them to make memories that they will treasure.

It does take a ton of work but yes, it is worth it. I may have to read this over again by mid-July just to remind myself, but summer reading is definitely worth the bother.

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