by Emily Schappacher
Summertime is filled with poolside fun, outdoor activities and family vacations. While school is out of session, many kids aren’t thinking about learning — or reading.
“Studies show that during the summer, kids tend to experience a drop-off in their learning,” says Elaine Willis, public relations associate at Westlake Porter Public Library. “Kids who read during the summer keep their reading skills sharp, enabling them to enter the new school year more prepared to learn new material. In addition, the programs are fun.”
Experts agree that even a modest amount of reading — as little as 15 to 20 minutes each day — can make a big difference when it comes to preventing summer learning loss.
Libraries and organizations throughout Northeast Ohio offer summer reading programs geared toward children and teens of all ages and skill levels that will keep them engaged and learning throughout the summer months.
“Summer reading gives youth and their families a place to go in the summer that supports their educational efforts during the school year,” says Tina Sabol, community engagement manager at the Medina County District Library.
“Summer reading programs are a long-standing public library tradition conceived to encourage students to spend at least part of their summer vacation with books so their reading skills stay sharp,” says Robert Rua, Cuyahoga County Public Library’s assistant director of marketing and communications. “Our goals are to get families reading together and to educate parents on the importance of modeling behavior. Students who see their parents read are far more likely to become frequent readers than students who don’t.”
“The entire summer is a long time not to be thinking or learning,” says Kim Sidorick, manager of children’s services at Mentor Public Library. “We want kids to read all year round.”
Willis adds, “Read books, get prizes and attend entertaining programs — what kid doesn’t want to do that?”
Akron-Summit Public Library
Get a head start to reading and healthy living with the Mind, Body & Sole summer reading and exercise program at the library system. The program provides readers with opportunities to read and stay active. The whole family can log their reading and exercise activities, along with attending the library’s programming throughout the summer. Participants of all ages can win prizes and be entered into a grand prize drawing.
Participants of Cuyahoga County Public Library’s summer reading program can earn prizes by checking out books and tracking their reading in 20-minute increments. The program, “Get in the Game: READ,” has a special emphasis on family participation with a goal to get families to read together. The program also requires participants to complete a number of math problems and volunteer activities. Suggestions for volunteering include donating food to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, holding a bake sale to raise money for a local charity, or offering to do yard work for an elderly neighbor.
Lorain Public Library
The library’s “Exercise Your Mind” theme this summer encourages kids to read and stay active. The program runs from June 6-Aug. 6 with a kick-off beach party on June 4 from noon-3 p.m. at Lakeview Park in Lorain. Participants can earn free books for reading. To win prizes, kids not only have to read (kids and teens have to read a total of five hours), they also can complete activities (they must log five activities) such as playing outside, attending a library program and making a healthy recipe. According to the library, even the youngest members of the family can participate, as being read to counts, too.
Medina County Library
The theme of the summer reading program at Medina County District Library is “Make – Create – Discover – Learn,” an extension of the library’s ongoing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programming that is popular among parents and schools. The program has two tracks geared toward children and teens. Children are encouraged to read or listen to someone read to them for at least 20 minutes per day and keep track of their time in a log. After 10, 20 and 30 days of reading, children can visit any library branch to claim a prize. For every three hours teens read and record online, they earn one spin of the prize wheel at their local branch.
Mentor Public Library
The Mentor Public Library has two goals for this year’s summer reading program: to get people reading and to get people moving. The library will run a trio of summer reading programs geared toward children, teens and adults encouraging participants to be both mentally and physically active. After signing up for summer reading, children will be encouraged to try activities, such as playing catch, flying a kite or going on a hike. Teens can participate in a yoga class, learn exercise techniques from a personal trainer, and check out new fitness apps. Everyone who participates in the summer reading programs has a chance to win prizes, including gift cards from local businesses, Lake County Captains baseball tickets, and family passes to The Holden Arboretum and Lake Metroparks Farmpark.
Westlake Porter Public Library
The theme of this year’s reading program at Westlake Porter Public Library is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” and has a focus on travel. The program is broken down by age group; participants receive prizes for reading a certain number of books or for reading for a certain number of hours in a given timeframe. Additional program activities include craft projects, a library lip-sync battle, a magic show and an ice cream social.
Help for Kids Struggling in Reading
Baldwin Wallace University (bw.edu/community/summer-camps) offers a summer reading intervention program intended for children and adolescents entering grades 1-10 who are struggling with literacy development. Each participant is paired with a licensed teacher for individualized instruction based on a skills assessment. The teacher and student will choose several goals to be accomplished during the program, which will be met through individual or small-group lessons and activities. The program will conclude with an assessment to evaluate each student’s progress.
“Even though it is only a month-long program, the time is focused and carefully planned so that students get a great deal of targeted instruction,” says Dr. Naomi Feldman, director of the program. “These conditions are ideal for kids to make progress in literacy.”
John Carroll University (jcu.edu/ce/pages/summer-reading-program)has summer programs for children and adults (ages 4 and older) provides eight different skills programs that are designed and taught by instructors from the Institute of Reading Development. The summer reading programs are available in locations such as Cleveland, Mentor, Parma Heights, Solon, Brunswick, Westlake and more. These programs are sponsored by Continuing Education Programs at John Carroll University.
Emily Schappacher is a wife, mother and writer based in Brecksville