Yay, summer! Swimming, lazy days, lots of time outdoors, and, for teachers and parents, the dreaded “summer slide.”
The tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the school year, the summer slide is all too real. With schools closed and sunny weather activities, things like reading and math take a backseat for a few months.
Libraries are powerful resources to help halt the summer slide. They provide young people with access to books, digital tools, programming, workshops, challenges, tech tools and more. Here are nine ways libraries help halt the summer slide.
1. Books, Books, Books
Yes, libraries have evolved, but they’re still treasure troves of books. When I was a kid, we took weekly trips to the library where my two siblings, my mom (a bonafide library power user) and I would each borrow a stack of books that we’d devour — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly — over the next week.
2. Read in the Library
Turn a trip to the library from an errand into an event. Plan to spend an hour or two and give the young people in your life freedom to explore their interests. You (and they) might be surprised at what they discover. Giving young people freedom to explore their interests through books is one of the best ways to halt the summer slide (and make them lifelong readers and learners).
3. Storytelling Events
You’re never too old to enjoy a good story. Find out when your local library hosts storytelling events and round up the family to attend. You can also read aloud from library books at home. There’s nothing like being lost in a story to spark the imagination and potentially inspire a budding writer or storyteller of your own.
4. Reading Challenges
Reading challenges have long been a staple of library summers. A little accountability, competition and notoriety can go a long way to motivate young readers. Check your local library to see what challenges they offer.
If you want to go big and do some good, join the nation’s largest summer read-a-thon fundraiser to raise money for libraries in the United States. Presented by EveryLibrary, the read-a-thon runs July 1st to July 31st but you can start today. Learn more and register at readforlibraries.org.
Books aren’t for everyone. If the young people in your life don’t appreciate books, they may appreciate magazines on their favorite topics. Set them loose in the library magazine section and chances are good they’ll come up with something that strikes their interest.
6. eReaders and Computers
As libraries have evolved, they’ve become digital resource hubs. Desktop computers, laptops, ereaders and tablets can all be an enticing offer to kids who are resistant to doing actual school work. Find educational games and projects that engage their minds and imagination. If you need help, ask the local librarian — they’d be happy to help you find just the right thing.
7. Makerspaces, Tech Centers and Digital Media
If you really want to impress and engage your kid, find the local tech and maker offerings in your local library system. A growing number of libraries offer makerspaces, tech centers and digital media labs to help your young people manifest their creative vision (and pick up some new skills along the way). You can also look into workshops and presentations that may spark some inspiration.
8. Pass it On
You know the old saying that if you want to really understand something, then teach it? Well, a great way to make your child a stronger reader and learner is to have them share what they know with younger children. From reading aloud to helping with math or science problems, teaching will instill confidence and cement your kid’s foundational skills.
9. Model Reading
My mom used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. The young people around us are looking to see how we do things to learn how they should do things. If you want your kid to read more, model reading. If you want them to work on math, work on puzzles and number games. Let them see that learning is something that happens long after you leave a classroom.
10. Bonus Tip — Audiobooks!
Our friends at AudioFile Magazine run a great summer audiobook program called “SYNCH”. Every Thursday all summer, 2 free teen-oriented digital downloads are available for everyone. Head over there and start building your audiobook collection too!