Worthwhile to reward bookworms

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It’s that time of year again, the time that all kids look forward to and all parents dread. If this oppressive heat didn’t clue you in, then perhaps the increase presence of children around the neighborhood revealed that it was finally summer. That means kids are free to fill their days however they choose. Some turn into fish at the local pool, others stay inside with video games and almost everyone stockpiles change for the moment the ice cream truck turns the corner.

But summer is also a dangerous time for kids. Beyond the normal worry that kids will get into trouble once they have nothing productive to do, there’s been a lot of recent press about the so-called “summer brain drain.”

Google the term and hundreds of thousands of results will turn up, most offering tips for parents to combat the two-month gap in their child’s education. Some encourage going to museums, working on craft projects or enrolling kids in camp. But many of these recommendations require money, something many don’t have.


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But, as usual, the library has Suffolk’s kids covered.

The kick off for the annual free summer reading program will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the North Suffolk Library. The program rewards kids for reading books over the summer. Children’s Service Coordinator Sarah Newton told the Suffolk News-Herald, “We really work hard to build not only a love of reading, but also of being active in the community.”

As a kid, I spent most of my time with my nose in a book. I even mastered the art of walking while reading, which I needed if I was going to finish that last chapter between classes at school. But I never took advantage of library reading programs, mostly because I didn’t need the incentive.

But in this device-driven culture, a lot of kids don’t see the point of books, not when they can spend the day immersed in a video game or surfing the Internet. That’s where the library can help. Kids not only receive prizes for reading at least eight books, the library is also sponsoring many special appearances — such as a storyteller visit.

If we encourage children to read over the summer, they will be less likely to suffer from summer learning loss. This keeps teachers from having to waste valuable teaching time reviewing last year’s lessons and children from falling further behind.

Suffolk’s public library system is a valuable — and often overlooked — community resource. We should all take advantage of the services they offer and give back in whatever ways we can.