By: Karen Mack
For: Red Rock News
Date: August 19, 2011
Hours of Fun for Summer Readers
I know who you are and you made me smile every single day this summer! You are the awesome ‘Summer Readers’. You immersed your minds and imaginations in books, read for fun and wrote a total of 607 online reports about what you were reading.
You are also the parents, grandparents, relatives and caregivers who took time to read aloud to the very young children, made summer visits to the library and did your best to engage and encourage reluctant and new readers. I met all of you over the last eight weeks and want to thank you for making my first summer at the Sedona Public Library such a heartwarming experience.
Of the 251 youth who signed up for this year’s summer reading program, 184 participated online. Their time spent reading totaled 1,576 hours. The qualitative feedback was especially heartwarming. This summer a parent quietly commented to me that she had never known her soon- to- be- teenager to read a book for pleasure, let alone be anxiously waiting for a third book in a series.
Over the summer, children who had begun to decode and discover the joy of reading would often rush into the library, immediately plunk down next to “their section” and start looking for books, with a real sense of library ownership. These young beginning readers would sometimes ask the librarian, with pride, for a specific title that they had read over and over again. The Elephant and Piggie Early Reader series by Mo Willems and of course “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss were great summer hits with this crowd.
Several studies have been done on children and reading over the summertime. A strong body of research shows that students lose reading skills if they don’t practice during the summer months. One researcher, James Kim, an assistant professor of education at Harvard University, provides what I think is a good summary of key ingredients for improving reading skills during the summer.
ABCs of improved Reading
A: Access to books. It’s critical that kids have easy access to a wide variety of books over the summer months but access alone does not make a strong impact.
B: Books that match readers’ ability levels and interests. Reading books that are too easy or too hard won’t help.
C: Comprehension. The most important piece to making summer reading effective is the help of an adult who can ask questions and guide kids to better understand what they are reading.
Many of these studies are available online and staff at the Youth Services desk will be happy to provide directions for accessing the information.
The Friends of Sedona Library can’t be praised enough for their volunteer spirit and hard work. They support both the educational and recreational facets of the Summer Reading Program and provide the funding for incentives and many special events throughout the summer, as well as year round. The City of Sedona Parks and Recreation Department treated summer readers to a free swim at the Community Pool. In addition, Red Rock Kid’s Emporium and Books, Out of Africa Wildlife Park, Taco Del Mar, Sedona Famous Pizza, and MacDonald’s all very generously provided coupon incentives to help spur our readers. Weber’s IGA in the Village of Oak Creek provided their delicious cookies for our final World’s Fair event. Thank you everybody. I’ve had a great summer and I hope you have too.
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.
Karen Mack is Youth Services Librarian of the Sedona Public Library.