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Helping your child succeed: Keep children reading this summer — take them to the library

HAGÅTÑA — Education experts agree children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not, often slide backward.

For many children, however, summer means taking a break from the daily academic routine. So, how can parents keep their children reading and learning all summer long? According to Reading is Fundamental, the nation’s oldest and largest children’s and family nonprofit literacy organization, parents should take their children to the library.

The Guam Public Library System or GPLS hosts an annual summer program that encourages and rewards preschool and school-age children for summer reading. This year’s theme is “Build a Better World.” The GPLS’s Summer Reading Program or SRP is a special time during summer for the young and the young at heart to have fun reading and participating in activities that ignite the imagination and foster learning, even while school is out. This year’s SRP will take place at all GPLS branches and run from June 5 to July 13. Parents who would like for their children to participate in this wonderful program may register them until June 10 at any GPLS branch; however, the program’s kick-off is Saturday, June 3 at 9:30 a.m. For more information, call the main library at 6710475-4751/4752 or visit the nearest branch library for details. Parents who cannot commit to the SRP’s schedule should still check the library’s calendar for special summer reading-related activities and events, such as arts and crafts, puppet shows, special guest readers, and magic shows in which their children can participate.

In addition to giving kids the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, learn new skills and read some great material, summer library visits offer a wide range of benefits for the whole family.

Below are some reasons mentioned in “Read All About It,” Reading Is Fundamental’s Newsletter, March/April 2002, on why families should incorporate regular trips to the library into their summer plans.

Parental perks

• Going to the library takes the guesswork (and pressure) out of choosing books for kids. Librarians and other professionals and volunteers are available to assist parents and guide children in their reading selections.

• Library visits give parents a chance to spend quality time with their kids.

Benefits for kids

• Participating in a summer reading program can be fun, rewarding and challenging.

• When children are given the opportunity to choose what they want to read, they’re more likely to enjoy reading and make it a habit.

• Library visits may give kids an opportunity to use computers, research on the internet, and socialize with peers.

Something for everyone — teens, too!

• Some libraries have summer reading programs just for teens, with activities that appeal to their specific interests and educational needs. Some activities may include mystery nights, creative dramatics, poetry slams, arts and crafts, or talent shows.

• Libraries often recruit teens to volunteer in their youth summer reading programs as storytellers, administrative assistants, or helpers for organized activities.

Bringing families together

• The library is a place the whole family can visit together.

• Parents and kids can check out books, or books-on-tape, to take on family vacations.

• Older children may also want to read library books to younger siblings.

Whether parents engage their children in organized library activities or simply let kids choose their own reading materials from the library, parents can be assured that children who read during the summer months will keep or enhance reading skills learned during the school year that otherwise would be lost.

Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 27 years of professional experience. You can write to her at with your questions or comments.