Reading during the summer prevents achievement gaps

by: SUBMITTED - DDDDThe year 2013 has been exemplary for our West Linn Public Library Summer Reading Program. The number of children and teens who signed up this year increased by about 7 percent over last year.

We had a record-breaking number of people attend our summer events for kids, teens and families and also had an unprecedented number of community members and businesses step forward to sponsor the Summer Reading Program in 2013.

I am proud to be a part of a community that values literacy and supports their library, and you should be too. Congratulations to all of those young people who took a pledge to read over the summer and to those who accomplished their goals. Congratulations to all of the families and caregivers who supported, encouraged and participated in their children’s reading goals by carving out time in busy summer schedules to visit the library. Well done everyone!

Now, with some of the celebrating out of the way, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of daily reading practice during summer vacation in hopes of explaining why these achievements deserve to be applauded.

Research has shown that students can lose up to one month’s worth of reading skills during the summer when school is not in session. These lost months actually add up over time, having a snowball effect and contributing to what researchers refer to as the “achievement gap.” Children who do not read during the summer will be behind their peers by two years on average by the end of fifth grade. Yikes!

The public library’s Summer Reading Program is specifically designed to combat this slide by encouraging families to set goals and find enjoyment in reading. Research has also shown that reading during the summer results in increased vocabulary and improved spelling, grammar and comprehension skills.

It has also been shown that reading for fun is the best predictor of reading comprehension and vocabulary. Reading has to be enjoyable if it is to be effective, and making it enjoyable is a primary goal of the summer reading program.

Looking forward to future Summer Reading Programs, we hope to continue making connections in the community and foster even more support from local businesses and organizations through collaboration.

We would like to increase our outreach to better serve families that might not be regular library patrons and spread the word about the significant impact that reading over the summer will have on their children’s achievement in school. We would like to continue to reach more families and put more books into the hands of more children.

With our community’s continued help and support, the West Linn Public Library’s Summer Reading Program will continue to grow and become even more fabulous.

Cheers, to another successful year of Summer Reading at the West Linn Public Library.

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