The end of the school year is quickly approaching. Like many parents, librarians are busy planning the long stretches of time ahead with activities to keep young people occupied and entertained. Our mission is to beat the Summer Slide, encourage reading for fun and educate in fun and innovative ways.
For the past few years, the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library system has hosted 30,000 youth for summer programs. This includes infants all the way through teens. Our programs are free and open to the public, and easily viewable at www.hmcpl.org. From live animal shows to science clubs, movie days and crafts- the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library offers something for everyone. Community partners bring cultural and educational opportunities through music, dance, scientific exploration and much more.
“Build a Better World”
This year, the 2017 summer reading program theme is “Build a Better World” and families can pick up their Summer Reading packet at any branch of HMCPL after May 30th. All children up to 5th grade may participate in a variety of activities – from animal programs, martial arts demonstrations and STEAM-based learning experiences, the library has something for kids of all ages!
- Get all the Kick-Off Parties and programs HERE.
- Find out what books your kid has assigned by their school for Summer Reading HERE.
Why Do Libraries Host Summer Reading Programs?
Studies show that for reading success to happen, access to books is critical. The public library is an excellent free resource for families to have access to books of a wide range of interests and reading levels, as well as librarians to guide children and families in selecting great books. We especially encourage reading for fun during the summer months and do not stress points and levels so much as interest in a topic or theme. Children who see reading as a treat and not a chore will feel more inclined to explore the shelves, searching for the next favorite book.
Beating the Summer Slide isn’t an insurmountable task, either. Reading just 4 to 6 books over the summer has the potential to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall, so even small steps are very beneficial. Modeling reading behavior is especially important, too. Children and teens tend to read more when adults in their lives encourage them to read, and also when they see those adults reading often themselves. Bonus: It’s good for us, too!
The Proof Is Out There
A study by Barbara Heyns (1978) is still one of the most consistently cited in the research on summer reading. One of the most striking findings was that children who did not read at all over the summer experienced a loss of reading skills equivalent to as much as an entire grade level. In contrast, children who read at least six books during the summer either maintained or improved their reading skills—and this was true for all children, regardless of socio-economic status, or SES.
Many studies have been conducted over the years, and all of them point to a loss of skills if they are not enforced. In as little as 20 minutes a day, parents, caregivers and children can combat the effects of Summer Slide to begin a new school year ready to learn instead of re-learn.
Libraries Aren’t What They Used to Be
This is very true at all of our branch locations. We have vibrant, boisterous children’s programs that involve music and movement, stories and songs. Conversation, crafting and creation occur at every corner of the buildings. Embracing digital, we offer downloadable books and music and streaming services as well. Long road trip? Rent a wi-fi hotspot and have streaming content for the kids all the way to your destination. Need help with a resume? We can help with that, too.
If you haven’t been to your local library, you are missing out! There is truly something for everyone- both within the walls and online. A community center, your local library is here to assist you- even if it means keeping the kids entertained for a few hours while you check out the latest in what’s great.
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Mandy Pinyan has been a passionate book lover from an early age, where being busted for bringing Stephen King to school (a book, not the guy) led to much reading by flashlight. She turned out okay. She is the Youth Services Coordinator and Manager of Outreach Services at the Huntsville Madison County Public Library Extension and Outreach Department, where she can be seen driving a Rainbow Van or a Bookmobile in between gigs. Mom to a tween, Adelyn and wife to a ruggedly handsome outdoorsman with an obsession with planting bamboo, Mandy finds enjoyment in painting, gardening and geeking out over various pop culture. A small menagerie of pets - dachshunds Matt Damon and Angel, kitty BB and Boston-Chihuahua-chupacabra mix Bailey just make the chaos complete.