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 14 and runs through Aug. 25.
Kids up to age 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.
Teenagers can take part in the Teen Summer Challenge, which runs during the same time period. See the details here.
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.
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."
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).
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.