By Katherine Gotthardt
Here’s a riddle. What summer phenomenon do educators dread that sooner or later, parents and students also do? Hint: It means reading skills slip down a few (or more) notches as the long break and summer vacation make reading less of a priority.
The answer is “summer slide.” The solution? Prince William Public Library System (PWPLS) says to make reading part of summer fun.
“Explore New Worlds 2018,” a PWPLS summer reading program, encourages children – and adults – to keep up the practice of reading while they are out of school.
According to library experts, research shows students who don’t read or participate in learning activities during the summer can forget what they learned over the past school year – so much so that by the end of 6th grade, students who lose reading skills over the summer end up two years behind their classmates.
But reading as a few as four to six books over the summer can help students maintain and even increase their reading skills during the break. It doesn’t have to be a chore, either, especially not when prizes are involved. Participating students can earn a free book and even qualify to win a flip laptop. Adults can win a Target gift card to enjoy a little splurge (or save for school supply shopping during Virginia’s Sales Tax Holiday, August 3-5, 2018). The library also offers the Weekly Challenge, a chance to win even more prizes.
Programming and Outreach Coordinator Tracy McPeck says, “Library summer reading programs help combat summer slide. Research shows that children who are engaged in summer reading programs perform better academically when they return to school in the fall. And the best part is that your kids and young adults get a quality experience for free by participating in PWPLS’s Summer Reading Program.”
It’s an easy-peasy solution to an age-old problem, and it’s simple to take part. To get started, students and adults can sign up online or at their local library branch, pick up a passport and start reading. The library provides fillable reading logs on the website.
To document progress, participants just drop in regularly to tell library staff what they are reading and receive an official check-in stamp. Traditional books count towards stamps and prizes, but so do eBooks, audiobooks, comics, graphic novels, magazines, etc. If the local school system has required reading, students can knock those assignments out while earning prizes, too. For the younger ones, storytime attendance counts.
Young adults and adults are encouraged to write reviews on Goodreads. Each student review adds an extra entry into the young adult grand prize drawing. This is a helpful option, especially for those whose middle and high schools require students to fill out a form or do a small project on the books they read over the summer. Writing a review helps readers to recall the story, and quality reviews could land on the library system’s Goodreads page.
Note, Prince William County School students (and other public school students where applicable) must meet their own school system’s reading requirements regardless of participation in the PWPLS Explore Summer Reading program. As a courtesy, the reading requirements for PWCS are printed in the program’s passports and on the paper reading logs.
For more information, visit the Explore New Worlds website, where a full list of library activities is also available.