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Libraries help kids combat Summer Slide

Reprinted from New York Post:

Summer vacation might be glorious with its promise of beach time, sun and sprinklers, but for many children, it can be a time when school-year learning is lost. Studies differ, but on average, kids can lose up to two months of learning; the impact is far greater for disadvantaged kids. “By fifth grade, [they] can be 2¹/₂ to three years behind based on summer loss alone,” says Maggie Jacobs, director of educational programs at the New York Public Library.

To help combat the summer slide, the NYPL, along with the separate Queens and Brooklyn library systems, has launched the annual #SummerReading challenge. In this monthlong celebration, each NYPL branch has its own kickoff involving different programs and book giveaways; there’s also a reading essay contest where kids can write about their favorite book and potentially win tickets to see a game at Yankee Stadium.

This year’s NYPL Challenge theme is outer space, which will be demonstrated in technology programs, robotics classes and science storytimes featuring scientists. A Challenge game-board reading chart and stickers (available at neighborhood branches) allows kids to track their reading progress throughout the season.

“Summer is a great time to build reading engagement. They don’t have homework, and they have time to hunker down with a good book,” says Jacobs. “We ask kids to read 20 minutes a day. Librarians love to get the perfect book into a kids’ hands. The best thing parents can do [this summer] is take their kids to a library.” The most heartening news about the slide? According to Jacobs, “There’s research that says that an under-resourced child who loves to read will do better — academically and in life — than a rich kid who doesn’t like to read.”

The #SummerReading challenge is sponsored by the New York Life Insurance Company. For a list of all library events, visit

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