Libraries prepare for 'summer slide'

As the end of the school year approaches, area public libraries are starting reading programs to combat the trend of children losing educational ground during the summer.

Experts call it the "summer slide," and according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning, students can lose up to 25 percent of their reading level and three months of their education throughout the summer months. The center said teachers commonly spend a month reteaching material the students have forgotten.

"The purpose of summer reading is to make sure [students] don't lose any of the skills they've learned throughout the school year and that they're ready to face the next grade with confidence," said Cynthia Pfledderer, director of the Southlake Public Library.

Each of the Colleyville, Grapevine and Southlake libraries offer free summer reading programs intended to engage students and parents in their libraries and motivate them to keep reading through books, e-books and audiobooks. The programs at each of the libraries are similar, providing children and teens with reading logs that track the minutes and books they read, which can be exchanged for rewards.

Programs even reward adults throughout the summer. Pfledderer said SPL is incorporating an online book review system for the first time this summer, which will in turn allow participating teens and adults opportunities for weekly drawings.

This year the Colleyville Public Library's theme is centered around Rocket, the mascot for the summer reading program, who encourages children to keep reading throughout the summer, Director Mary Rodne said.

"We really focus on programming during the day because it gives [children] an activity to do with the family," she said. "We make it a fun community center for the summer where they can connect and visit with friends."

The Grapevine Public Library offers a summer reading club in conjunction with a reading log system, Director Leigh Kapsos said. Throughout the summer, the club will host special performances and shows to get students as young as pre-K invested in reading.

"There's something for everyone," Kapsos said.

Although school districts are not directly involved with the reading programs, Rodne and Pfledderer said area schools are strong advocates and invite librarians to speak to students and encourage them to get involved in the program.

"We want to help [students] develop this pleasurable experience with reading so that they will want to do it for the rest of their lives," Pfledderer said.


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