Just Imagine

Imagine yourself in a high seas swashbuckling adventure, or in the throes of the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France or being saved from the wicked witch by your prince charming. Your children can not only imagine these scenarios, but immerse themselves in many other adventures as well through your local library’s summer reading program.

Many other countries do not take a full three months off at one time during the summer, but break down their vacations into smaller one to two week segments spaced throughout the year. America’s three month summer vacation is archaic and began several hundred years ago when our society was primarily agrarian and needed all hands to help with the harvest-including school aged children. Presently American schools still fall behind many other industiralized nations in most core subjects. Many think that part of the problem is the lack of time U.S students spend in school. For comparison, Japanese students attend school for a total of 240 days vs. 180 days for American students. Teachers and parents alike have complained that this long break makes it more difficult for the children to readjust to the arduous school schedule in the fall, and overall makes learning less effective.

During the long hot days of summer, children’s brains do not stop working. To keep your vacationing student’s mind sharp during the summer months keep them reading. Joining your library’s summer reading program is one way to encourage a love of reading. Most programs have rewards for the number of books read. Some reading programs require a one page book report, which is also nice to keep the handwriting skills up to par.

A report published in 2001 by the Evaluation and Training Institute for the Los Angeles County Public Library Foundation found that joining a summer reading program during the summer had very positive results for most participants. Some of the results include:

●98% of the participating students reported they liked the program.

●99% stated they liked going to the library.

●There was an 11% increase in the number of parents reading to their children more than 15 hours/week.

●Before the summer, 77% of parents reported their child read 9 hours or less/week. During the summer, there was a 9% increase in the number of children reading 10-14 hours/week and the number of children reading 15 or more books/week rose 11%.

●Teachers reported on over 900 participating and non-participating students. 55% who participated had a high enthusiasm for reading versus less than 40% of non-participants.

●More of the participants versus the non-participating students performed at or above grade level in: word recognition, reading vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Reading can help to increase overall comprehension, increase test scores, and instill a love of learning in children of all ages. If those are not good incentives for your child to read, hopefully the prizes the library chooses will encourage them to pick up a book and begin a wonderful adventure, or learn about a famous person. Parents can also join in on the fun by reading to your children at bedtime. This helps sharpen their listening skills and provides good quality family time together.

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