Not just a break

Published 8:25 pm Monday, June 30, 2014

It’s summer time, and the living is supposed to be easy. While that may be truer for some people than others, it’s still a critical time for children regardless of the parents’ stress level.

Many of us remember spending our summer days in some combination of outside playtime, sleeping late, playing video games or watching television. And then, of course, there was the joy of going on vacation to perhaps the beach or a theme park.

But children who focus only on such activities are not challenged intellectually. Running around all day can be good exercise, but it sometimes fails to stimulate the brain sufficiently — and add several hours a day of television to the mix, and things get even worse. That’s where your local library comes in handy.

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Studies have shown that over time, children who do not read during the summer can fall a full grade level behind their reading peers. That means teachers have to start the next school year playing catch-up, which can put the whole class behind when it comes to their grade-level work. And failing to do the grade-level work can in turn put the class even further behind on its SOL tests. Some Suffolk schools can ill afford to lose more ground in that regard.

The Suffolk Library — with three locations and a bookmobile — is offering a summer reading program that can be both fun and mentally stimulating at the same time, and there will be a variety of other events aimed at engaging young people and helping them to discover the joy of reading.

But even if you can’t get your child to any of the summer reading program events, at least take time this summer to read to your children or help your children read. If you don’t have access to age-level books, the library can also help you there.

If your children are all grown up or you don’t have any, you can still help by volunteering to help promote reading to the younger generation.

While it is important for kids to get exercise and have some fun during the summer, parents should not forget to help them develop their brains, too.