The days of summer reading are just about over.
When librarians talk about summer reading, they don’t mean books to take to the beach. Summer reading for librarians means providing literacy activities for kids while school is out—story time, special programs and books with a fun theme to tie everything together. Summer story time at our library has been going on for so many years that kids who used to come are now bringing their children. Hills Bank has been supplying us summer reading-themed tee shirts for over twenty-five years and we love seeing them being worn around town, not only by kids in the program but by teachers, school staff and librarians who are spreading the word about literacy.
This summer was a little different. Due to COVID restrictions, we couldn’t hold programs upstairs in Heritage Hall. The State Library of Iowa in Des Moines recommended moving activities outside. The gazebo in Lincoln Square Memorial Park on West Main Street turned out to be the perfect spot for story time this summer. We had enthusiastic permission and support from our city administrator Brandon Siggins and everyone on city council. Parks and Recreation director Drayton Kamberling spray washed the floor and got rid of a wasp’s nest. Bret Riccard created a beautiful vinyl banner to hang on the front. There was plenty of space in the park for bikes and strollers. We sat on carpet squares and benches, read stories, sang songs, and enjoyed special guest performers all summer long. After story time kids could walk up the street to the library and check out books to read on their own.
Studies show that kids who read during the summer avoid the “summer slide”—losing two or more months of learning when they return to school in the fall. Kids who read a minimum of six books over the course of summer vacation score higher in reading and math when they start their new grade. Just listening to stories and learning fingerplays give babies and toddlers a good foundation for learning to read. We were so happy to see so many moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers make coming to story time a priority in their busy lives.
As another summer draws to its close, we are grateful to be in a supportive community where reading to kids is a priority and summer reading is taken very seriously.