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Public Libraries Make a Difference: 5 Key Benefits of Summer Education Programs

Public libraries perform a key role in the education and development of young learners through summer education programs.

Summer vacation threatens to reverse many of the achievement gains that students—and teachers—worked so hard to reach during the previous school year. Low-income students are especially vulnerable to the “summer slide.” According to the Young Adult Library Services Association, low-income students “lose more than two months in math skills and reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains.” Summer education programs can stop the summer slide.

 

Public libraries that offer dynamic summer educations provide these five key benefits:

1. Foster a Love of Reading

To foster a lifelong love of reading, summer reading programs offer incentives for kids to read multiple books during the summer. This summer, the New York Public Library is encouraging kids to read by challenging them to enter an essay contest where they write about how the book they are reading or how books in general help make the world a better place. The winners will see the Yankees, meet a player, and take a bow on the field.

2. Close the Achievement Gap

Summer educational programs help reduce the achievement gap experienced during the summer months. This is especially critical for low-income children who may have other opportunities available. In 2010, a study carried out at Dominican University found that:

• Students who participated in the public library summer reading program scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who did not participate and they gained in other ways as well.

• Students who participated in the public library summer reading program had better reading skills at the end of third grade and scored higher on the standards test than the students who did not participate.

3. Provide Much-Needed Meals

Children from low-income areas may spend all day at the library because their parents are working and cannot afford to enroll them in a camp or provide childcare. Children who depend on free or reduced-price lunch programs during the school year are at risk of hunger during the summer months. And when kids are hungry, they are not receptive to learning. Many libraries provide meals alongside enriching programs involving craft, games, music, and movies. Lunch at the Library is an organization that “provides library staff with the tools and support they need to develop successful public library summer meal programs that provide children and teens in low-income communities with free and nutritious lunches through the USDA Summer Food Service Program.”

4. Offer STEM/Hands-On Education

According to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), students need 21st-century skills to prepare for college and career. YALSA recommends a broad learning program for summer and a focus on STEM with hands-on activities that capture the interest of children and teenagers. The Orange County Library System in central Florida, offers camps, classes, and programs during the summer with many hands-on learning opportunities. Technology camps offer the opportunities for kids to learn engineering, robotics & electronics, graphic design, audio & video production, sewing, knitting, weaving, space exploration, and more.

5. Enable Teen Volunteer Opportunities

The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s 2017 theme is Build a Better World. One of the best ways teens can build a better world is by giving back to their community through volunteering at their local library during the summer. Teen volunteers at the Kirkwood Public Library in Missouri make flyers, do prep work for activities, help with summer reading programs, and become reading buddies to kids.

Public libraries provide key services to children during the summer months and all year long, often partnering with local schools to make sure students have the resources they need to succeed. They truly make a difference in their communities.

Support public libraries and join the American Library Association’s effort to save library funding. #saveIMLS

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Where Writing Can Take You This Summer

"Tell Your Story." Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

“Tell Your Story.” Photo Credit: Damian Gadal / Foter / CC BY

Creative writing, poetry, fiction, short stories and so many other types of expressive writing are sometimes taken for granted in school when rigid educational standards and testing are prioritized. Writing, however, is a skill that goes hand in hand with reading and literacy and should be practiced in all forms including creative ones. Crafting a story from the imagination is a talent that cultivates creative thinking and should be encouraged. Whether you’re just starting to write, college-bound, working or interested in taking a writing class, opportunities are endless. You may be surprised at how many doors will open when you know how to craft stories and poetry. This summer, challenge yourself to start writing and see where it can take you. As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Here are five wonderful places where writing can take you this summer:

1. Writing poetry can lead you to compete:

If you have an interest in writing poetry, there are contests and competitions you may want to check out. Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest is one in particular that awards you and doesn’t require an entry fee. The contest is held bi-annually and you can enter as many times as you wish. Non-rhyming verse is preferred.

2. Writing can encourage you to craft your talent:

Sometimes writing camps are good options for young writers who want to attend a program over the summer. You meet other like-minded writers and get to have your work critiqued. One such program offered by the Emerging Writers Institute allows 10th-12th graders to craft works of poetry, fiction, plays and more under the guidance of talented instructors. This particular program is housed in residence at top universities and dates are available in 2-week time-frames throughout the summer.

3. Writing can inspire you to visit the local library:

Believe it or not, your library does offer writing workshops and classes over the summer. Chances are it also offers these services year-round. Check with your local librarian to find out what writing classes and events are being offered in your hometown. Once you start writing, you may visit the library more often to find new books to inform your writing. Also check out National Novel Writing Month in November and see what you can do to prepare for it this summer.

4. Writing can take you on a travel adventure:

Sometime in the course of your education, you may get an opportunity to study abroad. Writers have many options available to them to do this. One program to consider is the Prague Summer Program for Writers which now operates as an independent entity. Being able to apply directly removes the obstacle of being enrolled at a specific university. If this program isn’t right for you, there are lots of others. Beginning a writing journey this summer can prepare you for a study abroad adventure next summer!

5. Writing can teach you about yourself:

The terms “writer” and “introvert” are often associated together. This does not mean every writer is an introvert or every introverted person is automatically a writer. The association comes from society’s idea that if you write, you are more attuned with your inner self and thus able to channel that better with words. I have learned that writing can teach you a lot about yourself and your inner voice. The more you write, the better you become at listening to what it’s trying to tell you. Let your words be your guide and you will always find your way. The New York Times op-ed “Writing My Way to a New Self” by Hana Schank provides a firsthand account of how this sentiment is illustrated by writing.

Where is writing leading you? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us at #ProQuest!