A reading program through the Wake County public library system aims to keep children and adults turning book pages all summer long.
Readers can explore new books, attend special programs and collect prizes as part of the summer reading program that launches Sunday with celebrations at the system’s six regional libraries.
The program has a serious side. By encouraging students to keep reading, it could lessen “summer slide,” or the learning loss that researchers say widens the academic achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers.
It’s also intended as pure fun, a chance to share the joys of reading.
“What a wonderful time to learn about new things and discover new worlds through reading,” said Elena Owens, regional library manager at West Regional Library in Cary.
Owens stressed the program is not just for children and teens. Adults, too, can participate, whether it’s for their own pleasure or to encourage reading in their homes.
“For parents and adult caregivers, one of the best things they can do is model that behavior,” she said.
The program drew 40,000 participants last year, with a 15 percent increase in participation among young and school-age children, a 16 percent increase among teens and a 27.5 percent increase among adults.
Owens said libraries streamlined the program last year by making sure all of its facets paralleled one another, and ramped up promotion – efforts that will continue this year.
The program runs from June 1 to July 31.
Some students’ learning opportunities never stop. They go on vacations where they learn new things, attend enriching summer camps and have plenty of books to read at home, said Sherri Miller, director of literacy for the Wake County Public School System.
Other students, especially low-income students, are less likely to have those experiences that maintain and bolster their academics, leaving them behind when the new school year starts, she said. It’s a problem that compounds over time and widens the achievement gap in later years.
Miller said access to books is one step in helping children avoid learning loss. Another step is to get them thinking about what they read.
“It’s also important to involve students in a conversation about what they’re reading, whether they’re reading on their own or being read to out loud,” she said.
Miller said children also should have choices about what they read and be encouraged to read widely, beyond their favorite genre of the moment.
“At the end of the day what we want is a joy for reading, the feeling that my day’s not fulfilled unless I picked up a book,” she said.
Summer series kickoff
Wake County’s six regional libraries will host a summer reading launch from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 31.
▪ Cameron Village Regional Library: 1930 Clark Ave., Raleigh
▪ North Regional Library: 7009 Harps Mill Road, Raleigh
▪ East Regional Library: 946 Steeple Square Court, Knightdale
▪ Eva Perry Regional Library: 2100 Shepherd’s Vineyard Drive, Apex
▪ Southeast Regional Library: 908 Seventh Ave., Garner
▪ West Regional Library: 4000 Louis Stephens Drive, Cary
Community libraries will host celebrations on Saturday, June 6. For details, go to www.wakegov.com/libraries.