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Check it out: Library's summer reading program for kids is in the works is in the works

Jodi Schultz

It's true that everything is white and frozen now. Even so, we're thinking about summer at the library.

A main focus during the summer months is the summer reading program for our young library patrons, ages 2- 18. The younger children read or are read to for a certain number of minutes each day. The teenagers keep track of the books they read. Participants earn incentives, usually about one per week.

Last week I attended a kick-off meeting where we talked about ideas to use with this year's Summer Reading Program themes - "Dig into Reading" and "Beneath the Surface." We also touched on the program's purpose, and the goals we hope to achieve. I think some of those talking points are worth passing along.

It's not likely to surprise anyone when I say that libraries are in the business of promoting reading. It is our hope that the program will not only encourage reading, but help create positive attitudes about and association with reading.

The benefits of reading are many, not the least of which is entertainment. Students who enjoy reading, or are at least proficient readers, usually have an easier time in school than their non-reading peers.

Beyond school, there are traffic signs, restaurant menus, rental agreements, job applications and countless other parts of our daily lives that include reading. Being in a position to help people develop this skill is not something I take lightly.

You may have heard the expression, "Use it, or lose it." The phrase pertains well to our brains. If we don't find a way to apply the information we've learned, we're likely to forget it. That's another reason the summer reading program is important. Kids need to engage their brains over summer vacation to avoid summer learning loss.

For a thought-provoking illustration of this, you can view a video on YouTube. (Just type in "summer learning loss." The clip is two minutes and 12 seconds.)

Studies have shown that when a student reads as few as six books at the appropriate reading level during summer vacation, he or she is likely to fend off summer reading loss and maintain the reading gains made during the school year. If a student reads even more, her or his reading level could increase.

The summer reading program is a lofty endeavor, and our library wouldn't be able to provide the incentives we do without the help of our business community and their generous donations.

Last summer's benefactors included Aunt Belle's Confectionary, Beagle Books, Bella Caffe, Beyond Juice, Book World, Carter's Red Wagon, Compañeros, Friends of the Library, Haas Printing, Lamb Weston RDO, MinneSoda Fountain, Pizza Hut, RiverBend Home Expressions, Rocky's Pizza, St. Joseph's Area Health Services, Sister Wolf Books, Summerhill Farm, Subway, Superior Sewing and Embroidery, Travel Tags, Walgreen's and Wal-mart.

Thanks to them, we helped area students retain their learning while having fun. We are confident that many will choose to become partners in summer learning loss prevention again this year.