It's that time of year again. The time when I'm thrilled that my kids are thrilled to sign up for Milwaukee Public Library's Super Reader summer reading program.
This year's program kicked off on Monday, May 18 and runs through Aug. 29 (MPS is back in session on Tuesday, Sept. 1). Kids 0-12 can visit any MPL branch and sign up for free. They'll get a Super Reader yard sign or window cling and a sheet to track their reading over the summer.
Each time they complete a level, they can head back to the library and get a prize. At the end of summer they'll get more goodies, like free books, food coupons and admission to area attractions.
Teens 13-18 can take part in the summer "Put Your Face in a Book" program.
Each May, my kids can't wait to sign up.
One morning at breakfast, they shaded in the progress circles based on the previous day's reading and were proud of their early progress. Later, one of them said, "I think I'm becoming a book person."
Music to a parent's ears.
The National Summer Learning Association says that the "summer slide" – the brain drain that comes from kids' absence from the classroom – affects their progress and also negatively affects the achievement gap.
"Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months," according the NSLA's web site. "Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains.
"More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities."
"Last year nearly 21,000 children participated," said Mayor Tom Barrett in a statement this week. "We want more. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s really important. I encourage parents, grandparents, caregivers and teachers to bring the children in their lives to a Milwaukee Public Library to sign-up and to give them the support and encouragement they need to read 15 minutes a day."
This year, the goal is to enroll 25,000 Milwaukee kids. Kids that I hope will read for way more than 15 minutes each day, frankly.
Let your kids see you read for pleasure and create life-long readers and life-long learners. Buy them books. Read to them and with them. If books are too expensive at bookshops, go to a resale shop, pick some up at a rummage sale ('tis the season) or from a Little Free Library. Kids will treasure their own little library at home.
Before school ends, ask your school principal or librarian (if there is one and I sure hope there is) for resources for obtaining books to keep your kids learning over the summer. If you're a teacher or principal, contact Half-Price Books, which is often eager to donate books to local schools (I speak from experience here).
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