Library summer reading program

        Reading is an activity that can - and should - be done all year long. With that in mind, many public libraries sponsor reading programs that invite children to come in, set summer reading goals, and continue reading during the summers.

        These programs support two valuable tenets about reading: First of all, kids who read during the summer maintain their reading skills until the new school year begins. Secondly, when children are empowered to set their own goals, there is a greater chance that they will attain them.

        Katy Obringer, Supervisor of Childrenís Library in Palo Alto, has forwarded me the findings of a study by Barbara Heyns, who wrote Summer Reading and the Effects of Schooling (published in 1978 and now out of print).

        The results of the study are worthy of passing along to you. Working with 1,493 sixth-graders, Heyns was able to determine that:

  • the number of books read over the summer was a significant predictor of gains in reading over the summer.
  • children who used the library read more than those who did not.
  • those who read more than six books over the summer gained more than those who read fewer than six books.
  • those who lived closer to the library read more.

        My own experience in the classroom has shown me that children choose reading as an activity more frequently when they are in charge of selecting their own reading material.

        In most of the library programs, the children must sign up and complete their goals by set dates. When children reach their goals, they receive any number of rewards from local businesses. The greatest reward, however, is that the kids have improved their reading and enjoyed their time at it. 

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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