Libraries across the U.S. are gearing up for the annual onslaught of kids participating in summer reading.
For some county libraries, this annual tradition has a long history.
“The goals remain the same now as they did 100 years ago,” said Jeremy Graybill, Multnomah County, Ore. library spokesperson. “Make sure kids are learning throughout the summer.”
Summer reading programs were created back in the 1890s by the American Library Association to encourage children, particularly in urban areas where there was no farm work, to read during the summer. Early reading programs focused on the quality of the books and contained required reading. Newer education trends have focused on breadth of reading to create an “avid reader.”
The U.S. Department of Education says nearly 95 percent of all libraries have some form of summer reading. Research shows that the reading skills a student gains during the school year are lost if he or she does not continue to read during the summer.
Summer Reading Out West The Multnomah County Library is the oldest public library west of the Mississippi, with a history that reaches back to 1864. In 1912, the library gave special attention to summer reading with two honor rolls being instituted. One was for the fourth- and fifth-graders and consisted of a pictorial map of fairyland, the characters and places of which the children named from the books they read. The other was for students of the upper grades and consisted of a ladder of 12 steps, each step being a book from one of the 12 categories in library classification.
Through the years, the program has evolved to work with local school districts to help keep students reading throughout the summer. The current program, which kicked off June 15 with a centennial party, has children receiving a game board customized for their age group: birth–preschool, grades K–6 or grades 7–12.