June 25, 2021
Every year, when the summer sun heats up the day, a very strong memory returns to me. Finding refuge from the summer heat at the library is something I did all through my childhood and early adult years. This may sound odd to people who have never lived in a world without central air conditioning (especially these days), but escaping the heat of our house for the library was as much of an exciting excursion as it was a relief, allowing me to happily read books and participate in the Summer Library Program.
Reading at the Library in the summer is not only a great way to avoid the heat; it can be important in helping combat the “summer slide” (learning loss that occurs while kids are out of the classroom for several months). As you may know, teachers frequently spend the first several weeks of every school year catching students up from where they left off in the spring.
MCPL has been committed to helping combat the summer slide for decades. In recent years, MCPL commissioned a study that proved that participating in our Summer Library Program not only protected against the slide, but actually helped children improve their skills. Combining what we know about the summer slide along with the possible impact of “COVID Slide” means that reading this summer may be more important than ever before!
Our Summer Library Program is very easy. Read 20 minutes per day, and your family can earn prizes, including books to keep. Why does it matter if there are books in your home? The concept of “reading deserts” is real. First Book has compiled considerable information on this point. According to First Book, in lower income communities, there is an average of 1 book for every 300 children, with 83 percent of those children reading below grade level and 26 percent who will not graduate from high school.
Meanwhile, in upper-middle income communities, there are 13 books per child, with 55 percent reading below grade level and only 9 percent who will not graduate from high school. Is it correlation or causation? I don’t know. But reading in the summer and earning books to have in your home won’t hurt!
When I participated in the Summer Library Program, it was a program for children under 13. That’s no longer the case. Modeling good reading behavior is important for the children in your life. To that end, MCPL allows adult participation in the program as well. This means that everyone can get in on the fun!
Visit any of our libraries to beat the heat, bring more books into your home, and help combat the summer and COVID slides!
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director and CEO