Summer reading
         Reading is an activity that can - and should - be done all year long. With that in mind, the Palo Alto City Library has just launched Library Kids Lead the Way, its summer reading program that continues through the end of August.

         This program supports two valuable tenets about reading: First of all, kids who read during the summer maintain their reading skills when 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.

         This brings us to our libraryís program and some of its key elements. What impresses me most is that it is up to each child to set her/his own goals for reading during the summer. What a brilliant approach!

         Furthermore, 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. 

         They must sign up before August 1 and complete their goals by the end of that month. When children reach their goals, they receive a certificate, a free paperback book, and benefits from Round Table Pizza, the San Francisco Giants, and Great America. 

         There are flyers about the program at all six branches of the library system. You could also read about it at The Kidsí Page of the Palo Alto Public Library, maintaining skills during summertime activities 
         This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents

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