When librarians talk about the summer slide, they don’t mean the latest slippery attraction at local pools.
It’s what happens when kids don’t read over the summer, said Jonelle Darr, Cumberland County Library System director.
View full sizeBARBARA MILLER, The Patriot-NewsDogs from the Carlisle Dog Club show off their obedience skills at a summer reading program at Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg.One way to keep them reading is through the library’s popular summer reading program, she said. This year’s theme is “Dream Big: Read,” which was chosen by libraries nationwide.
“It’s a very core service for libraries. We know that if kids are not reading over the summer they slide terribly,” she said.
Darr is referring to the summer slide. She said studies have shown that kids who don’t read over the summer move back about three months in their skill level when school resumes.
“If you add it up over a few years in elementary school, it can really add up to a big deficit,” she said.
In Cumberland County, an estimated 7,000 kids take part in the summer reading program, Darr said.
One of the busiest local libraries is Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, which had about 2,300 kids in its summer program last year, Darr said.
“During summer, it’s like old home week around here. Everyone’s coming back,” children’s librarian Linda Stoner said.
There might have been a run on dog books at Simpson Library in Mechanicsburg last week after two programs by a dozen irresistible members of the Carlisle Dog Club and their owners. After demonstrating obedience commands and tricks, the canines engaged in a meet-and-greet petting session with the 100 kids attending.
It’s all about getting kids to read, say the librarians.
Some, like Sean McCurdy, 8, of Mechanicsburg, don’t need much prompting.
“Who knows how many I’ll read — maybe over 100,” he said, and has pledged to read at least 10 minutes every night.
“I’ll read any chapter book, pretty much,” he said, with the “Weird School” series one of his favorites, along with the old standby, National Geographic magazines.
His mom, Sue McCurdy, said she’s been coming to the summer reading programs for about eight years with her family, which includes three kids.
“It brings us together,” she said. “We can spend time together picking out books together. We’ve been reading to our kids since they were tiny babies.”
Stacey Geraty of Mechanicsburg said she likes the summer reading program because “it’s flexible. They can choose how much time they want to read. And you can do it while you’re on vacation or while you’re at home.”
Sam Geraty, 7, said he especially likes animal books, and plans to read “about 30, I guess.” Nathan Geraty, 11, is a mystery and fantasy fan, while Michala, 12, reads fiction, and Marissa Geraty, 14, loves Christian fiction.
“I love the free programs — the boys have always enjoyed them,” said Stacey Stoltzfus of Grantham. “It’s fun to come and get books we don’t have at home,” she added.
“Kids need be engaged. They need to have fun in summer — they need to be outside playing, but they also need to be engaged in new activities that engage their minds and keep their skills engaged,” Darr said.
The Cumberland County Library System budgets about $20,000 for the summer reading program, and libraries probably match that for additional programs, Darr said, most of which comes from donations. This year Giant Food Stores is a sponsor of the major program that will be held in each of the libraries — Flow Circus, a juggling act.
Simpson Library obtains coupon donations from area businesses to offer as prizes, and the big prize at the end of the summer is a free book.
Animal programs are a big hit among the young readers, with ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park and service dog clubs among those scheduled. Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is bringing science programs, and there’s a stuffed-animal sleepover for the younger set.
Libraries moved to a unified theme nationwide so librarians didn’t have to spend as much time developing summer programs on their own, Darr said.
Stoner visited schools and day care centers to get kids excited about the summer library programs. “I tell them, ‘I’m not telling you what you have to read,’ and I don’t give them a book list, but I tell them they have to read so many minutes,” Stoner said, adding they can fit it in around their other summer activities.
“Science has shown children do retain reading skills and basic educational skills over summer if they read. If they don’t, they tend to lose some of that. It’s not terribly important to children, but it is to their parents.”
ON THE WEB:For information on summer reading programs in Cumberland County libraries, go to http://cumberlandcountylibraries.org.