What's Happening in Character?

Making Summer Learning Fun: A Lesson from Public Libraries

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 @ 08:06 AM

By Rebecca Bauer

Teachers assign summer reading. Parents nag their children to complete it. Students begrudgingly obey. I’ll always remember the summers I spent resentfully slogging my way through dense and difficult reads from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens to Machiavelli’s The Prince. Teaching challenging texts is an integral part of a high quality education, but is not necessarily an essential component of summer work.

What if summer reading instead aimed to help students develop a voracious appetite for literature and connect them to their communities? While schools may not be thinking in terms of these more innovative summer reading goals, many libraries are.

When I was home from college one summer, I interned at the summer reading program at the Montclair Public Library. I noticed the program did a lot more than simply promote literacy, here were a few of its impressive characteristics:

Inclusive of the Entire Community

Whether you were 2 years old or 92 years old, you were invited to have a summer reading book log of your own. Library staff encouraged parents to sign up even their youngest children and keep track of the number of books they’d read together as a family. In addition, the program intentionally targeted teenagers, an age where students are known to be particularly disengaged in school, by offering a slightly modified program with age appropriate prizes and a free copy of the Hunger Games to each participant.

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Topics: Reading, Summer Reading