To help cure the ominous “summer slide” pandemic, the Los Altos libraries have scheduled the Children’s Summer Reading Club. The Santa Clara County Library District’s summer reading program, “A Summer of Science,” continues through Aug. 31.
Various events that serve both as education and fun for children of all ages are scheduled at the Los Altos main library at 13 S. San Antonio Road and the Woodland Branch at 1975 Grant Road. The club is free, and participants will have opportunities to win prizes. Programs include visits from the Children’s Discovery Museum and magician Brian Scott.
During the months students are out of the classroom and free to replace books with game consoles, libraries seize the opportunity to promote the importance of reading for fun.
“Reading over the summer helps children keep their skills up,” said Los Altos community librarian Judith Gregg in an email to the Town Crier.
According to the Santa Clara County Library District, “students can experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer months.” The U.S. Department of Education reports that, on average, students “lose the equivalent of two months of math and reading skills during the summer months.”
However, the deficit in information retention is not confined to summer.
The California Library Association believes that summer reading loss is cumulative: “By the end of sixth grade, children who consistently lose reading skills over the summer will be two years behind their classmates.”
The New York Times and the San Jose Mercury News have also taken note of the reading trend – or lack thereof. The rates of children and teenagers who read for fun are declining. Both papers refer to statistics from a Common Sense Media report that indicate that today, 22 percent of 13-year-olds never or hardly ever read for fun, compared with 8 percent in 1984, and 27 percent of 17-year-olds never or hardly ever read for fun, compared with 9 percent.
The California Library Association claims that students are motivated to read for pleasure when they can choose topics that interest them. Voluntary reading is crucial for building on vocabulary, comprehension and critical-thinking skills.
Gregg encourages families to read together. She said a new database at the library, “Always Available Classics,” enables users to download and keep the classics online.
“The advantage of library summer programs is that they are not located in school buildings, which reduces the negative perception about summer learning,” she said. “The program can just be good fun and provide an opportunity for family time.”
The summer reading program includes special events for children up to age 12, teens 13-18 and adults.
For a schedule of programs and more information, stop by the library or visit sccl.org/services/summer-reading.