The Children’s Summer Reading Program: Why all the fuss?
Year after year the library launches a “Full-Court Press” of dynamic summertime programs just for Florence’s young readers. What’s the reason for all the fuss and excitement? Paula Childers, the Director of Children’s Services for the Florence Library, knows all too well that these fun presentations combat a serious problem.
Look at the evidence:
Children can lose “about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading” during the summer break, with the youngest and poorest suffering the longest lasting effects. (Austrew).
“Until more resources are available, schools and districts alone are never going to be able to adequately address summer learning loss”….. Summer learning loss “needs to be recognized by the community as a problem that they need to work with the schools to solve” (O’Brien).
For nearly three decades, Ms. Childers and her library team have worked diligently to organize summer speakers, entertainers, and experiences to fight “the Summer Slide.” Their efforts have attracted thousands annually.
Even COVID has not deterred the fight. On the contrary, library efforts have expanded. Working with a national program, Collaboration of Summer Library Programs (CSLP), the Florence Library is presenting “Tails and Tales,” a robust curriculum of summertime learning support.
In keeping with the CSLP 2021 “Tails and Tales” theme, children coming to the Florence Library are welcomed by a village of favorite animal characters cheerfully gathered on top of the book stacks, waiting to greet their friends and to share their stories. These stacks were specifically designed for tall books and short readers, placing colorful book covers right at eye-level for youthful discovery.
Thematic discovery is also encouraged through a true-to-life size growth chart where even adults have enjoyed comparing their heights with the heights of various animals. Again, the fun is serious: the graph allows the guest to interact with the information without outside instruction. Childers looks forward to incorporating more of these “passive displays” into the library. Before leaving, children can grab a take-home art project or one of the many graphic novels to enjoy later.
Online Young Reader Focus
Since learning goes on all year, the end of summer won’t mean the end of the special programs. Our librarians have created online experiences to watch, listen to, and read along with—story time for babies, for new readers, for older readers, for bilingual readers….online “first chapter Friday’s” and “virtual escape room”mysteries for teens…and lots more..all just a “click” away on florencelibrary.com and on Dewey D. Fox’s Facebook page.
Spotlight on Paula Childers and the GLC Staff
In 2017, Ms. Childers was the recipient of the prestigious John Landrum Advocacy Award given by the Friends of the South Carolina Libraries. The award recognizes “individuals whose advocacy, support, and encouragement have been critical in ensuring that South Carolina’s public libraries remain prominent and vibrant institutions”.
“Prominent and vibrant” aptly describes Florence Library’s young reader programs. The Friends of the Florence County Library proudly supports these dedicated professionals. Their work benefits our entire community!
Austrew, Ashley. “How to Prevent Your Kids from Losing What They Learned in School During Summer Vacation.”
Scholastic: Parents/Summer Slide Statistics and Prevention, Scholastic, 5 June 2019, scholastic.com.
O’Brien, Anne. “How to Beat Summer Learning Loss.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation,
4 June 2012, www.edutopia.org/blog/how-to-beat-summer-learning-loss-anne-obrien.
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