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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Summer Reading

Teachers may be counting down the days till classrooms are empty, but librarians everywhere are frantically preparing for the busiest time of the year. Oh I know, a lot of people imagine a library as a stuffy and somber buildings where some spinster wearing  cat-eye glasses and her hair in a bun is constantly shushing people. This particular stereotype may have had a bit of truth to it 75 years ago, but these days libraries are more than just repositories for musty books. Libraries are vital and active community centers where people of all ages can read, study, play, learn, create and grow.

Active is definitely the key word during the summer when families flood the library looking for inexpensive ways to entertain their kids. Cue superstar librarians that plan, prep, and host oodles of FREE summer programs for babies, toddlers, tweens, teens, and even adults.

The majority of libraries in the U.S. utilize the Collaborative Summer Library Program to help plan their summer schedule. The CSLP is a consortium of states that work together to develop a variety of materials, guides, artwork, and more that libraries can use for little or no cost. Each year the CSLP comes up with a unique theme and this year it is A UNIVERSE OF STORIES! Who doesn't get super geeked about space!

In celebration of the space theme our library is having a StarLab inflatable planetarium at our kick-off event. I have never been in one of these portable planetariums, but they look like an amazing way to experience a planetarium without leaving your hometown or paying for an expensive ticket. The knowledgeable folks from Dynamic School Assemblies will show and teach us all about what we can see in our midwestern summer sky in a thirty minute show. Obviously, not everyone can fit for one show so there will be six shows on Monday, June 17th from 4-7pm.  While waiting there will be face painting, space activities and, of course, you can sign up for the take-home portion of the summer reading program.

The take-home portion of the summer reading program is designed to get kids excited about reading books over the summer.  Basically, you sign up your child and they receive a reading log and every time they finish a level (there are eight total) you can bring it back for a prize and a chance to enter a drawing for a grand prize. Children will also have the opportunity to add a star sticker for every book they read to our library moonscape. By the end of summer we hope that our young readers will have it completely covered.

In addition to the kick-off our library will be hosting other amazing space-themed programs for multiple age groups throughout the summer. We will have a rocket building and launching competition, you can graduate from a padawan to a Jedi at Jedi Academy, tie-dye galaxy t-shirts, a sci-fi teen book club, and so much more. If you are not lucky enough to live in the Portland community, I highly encourage you to check out your local library.

Of course, parents aren't just looking for fun things for their kids to do. Many are hoping to bridge the gap between school years and prevent the dreaded summer slide. No, summer slide is not a piece of playground equipment. It is the knowledge that school aged kids lose over the summer. As you can see from the graphic at the left (provided by scholastic) and pretty much everyone else doing research on literacy, reading, and summer slide (including the Children's Literacy Initiative) reading and taking your child to the library are two of the best ways to prevent summer slide. This is awesome news, parents. You don't have to force your child to do worksheets or sign them up for expensive classes or tutors. All you have to do is let them read, and not boring classics or books that they would rather go to the dentist then read. Take them to the library and let them pick whatever they want. Wow! That is so easy and studies show that just having your child read 2-3 hours per week can prevent summer slide.

I hope that all of you will remember your library this summer when you are looking for things to do. They are free, fun, and educational. Seriously, there are no negatives to frequenting your local library.