School’s out for summer, but many local children will be reading more than ever as library summer reading programs kick off.
Both the Glendale and Peoria libraries participate in the Maricopa County Library District’s Summer Reading Program, but they also offer their own programs — the Glendale Public Library Summer Reading Program and Peoria Reads! — which run simultaneously with the county’s from June 1 through Aug. 1.
The primary goal of summer reading programs is to interrupt the summer slide, the common term given to the learning loss experienced by children while transitioning between school years, according to maricopacountyreads.org.
“There’s no doubt, that is a real thing,” said Nathaniel Washburn, Peoria library and cultural services manager. “I was a teacher and a principal, so I know firsthand the summer slide is a real thing.”
Washburn said that when students are in school, they get a review of some kind, whether it’s the previous lesson from the day before or whether it’s reviewing a theory or concept.
“So when summertime comes — and slides happen over many breaks, too, not just over the summer, we see it with December breaks, too — the real problem with it is that it’s like any other thing that we do in our lives, if we’re not doing it on a constant basis, we lose it, so the summer slide is really about the content literally leaving the brain,” Washburn said. “Honestly, to put it bluntly, it’s like muscle atrophy, it’s muscle atrophy of the brain.”
The secondary goal of summer reading programs is to promote early literacy among pre-readers and their families during the summer months.
“For me, the real purpose is to keep the literacy bug alive and well in these children,” Washburn said. “Reading is such an important part of everything that they do, no matter what subject you’re learning in school, reading is involved, whether it’s math, obviously any English classes, but even science, social studies, they’re all based around literacy.”
Summer reading programs aim to accomplish both goals while keeping it fun.
Participants keep track of how many minutes they read and earn prizes along the way. Peoria Reads! participants can earn treasure box prizes, such as sticky hands and rubber duckies, while Glendale Public Library Summer Reading Program participants can earn treasure box prizes as well as stickers, Sonic ice cream and drink coupons, buttons, candy and books. MCLD Summer Reading Program participants can earn day passes to state parks and trails, Peter Piper personal pizzas, Rubio’s Coastal Grill taco meals and books.
MCLD Summer Reading Program participants who read 20 minutes a day are also eligible for prize drawings, which vary from library to library, said Erin MacFarlane, MCLD customer experience administrator.
“There’s other prizes available if you read 20 minutes a day,” she said. “Because the whole point is we’re trying to engage people and have them read with their families or their kids, to have kids continue to practice over the summer because we’re trying to stop that summer slide. So, if they read 20 minutes a day, research shows that if they continue that through the summer, then the summer slide doesn’t happen. So, all of the incentives that we have are based on that 20-minutes-a-day formula.”
The Peoria Reads! program holds drawings, as well, for prizes such as book sets, Barnes & Noble gift cards and Kindle Fires. Every participant who completes his reading log earns one raffle ticket. Participants can also earn raffle tickets at the following special events: “Reading is Hot!” from 9 to 10 a.m. June 7 at the City Council parking lot, 8401 W. Monroe St.; “World’s Largest Swim Lesson” from 12:30 to 3:15 p.m. June 21 at the Centennial Pool, 14388 N. 79th Ave., and the Peoria Pool, 11200 N. 83rd Ave.; “You Have the Right to Read!” from 9 to 10 a.m. July 12 at Sunrise Mountain Library, 21109 N. 98th Ave.; and “Reach for Reading!” from 3 to 7 p.m. July 26 at the Rio Vista Recreation Center, 8866 W. Thunderbird Road.
Other events, sponsored by the MCLD Summer Reading Program, are scheduled for the Peoria and Glendale libraries where participants can acquire secret codes.
“What they are are codes created by different libraries to give participants a chance to earn more points,” said Erin Garred, Glendale librarian.
The participant enters the secret code into his online account and usually gets an extra 20 points, she said.
“The secret codes give some kids that maybe are slower readers or don’t have a chance to read as much due to activities, it gives them a chance to earn points,” she said. “It definitely helps some of those slower readers keep up with their peers.”
Participants of the MCLD Summer Reading Program log their minutes online, while participants of the Glendale and Peoria programs log their minutes on bookmarks or game boards.
To sign up for the Maricopa County Library District Summer Reading Program, go to http://read20az.com/.
To sign up for Glendale’s or Peoria’s summer reading programs, visit one of the branches:
• Foothills Branch Library, 19055 N. 57th Ave., Glendale
• Main Library, 5959 W. Brown St., Glendale
• Velma Teague Branch Library, 7010 N. 58th Ave., Glendale
• Main Library, 8463 W. Monroe St., Peoria
• Sunrise Mountain Library, 21109 N. 98th Ave., Peoria