Do you want your children to keep up with their reading over the summer and have fun while doing it? Libraries across the region offer summer reading clubs throughout the summer that kids can participate in and earn rewards. Specifically, the TD Summer Reading Club is a free program offered through Canadian libraries to kids of a range of ages and all abilities.
Most public libraries in Niagara participate in the TD Summer Reading Club or offer a version of the program. Kids can read books recommended by the library or chosen themselves, track their own reading, participate in activities – often using the outdoors – and collect reading incentives.
These programs encourage children to keep reading throughout the summer and help prevent them from slipping behind in their reading skills.
The goal is to get kids reading for fun, says Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library community engagement co-ordinator Debbie Krause, who oversees the summer reading program there. Offering children a variety of reading material is important, she says.
“We encourage kids to read all manner of print in hopes that they will enjoy reading as a fun activity and not just something they have to do. Let them choose! All types of print are acceptable. It’s about enjoying the experience and discovering that reading is fun.”
Rebecca Lazarenko, public services librarian at the Thorold Public Library, believes there are many benefits for children who participate in summer reading clubs.
“We often talk about the ‘summer slide’ syndrome where students lose some of the knowledge they gained throughout the year by participating in daily repetition and practice. Not only does summer reading address this concern, but it also presents reading as a fun and optional leisure activity – often the opposite of how children are used to viewing literature in a school environment,” says Lazarenko.
“As part of the club we engage in many different activities that appeal to different types of learners. The mix of ages also works to expand the children’s social circles.”
What are the ages that can participate?
Typical of most summer reading clubs, the Thorold library program welcomes kids in a range of ages and has previously included children from the age of four to 13.
There is no commitment or minimum and the program is completely free, says Lazarenko. Children are encouraged to not only simply read more, but expand their range of reading: challenge themselves, pick up a new genre, or try a chapter a day.
“We are happy to make recommendations, but the children get to select their own titles and we find that this ownership really engages them.”
Children receive small prizes for books read and are asked one or two questions about what they’ve read.
“They are always very excited to share the titles and series they’ve come across,” she said.
Lazarenko suggests letting your children take the lead and build upon their interests. If your little one is really into superheroes, check out the new comic book collection, which might lead to reading a whole graphic novel serial and then perhaps a larger chapter book.
“If the child is not engaged, reading becomes a chore. If there is one thing we try to promote, it’s finding your personality in reading.”
There is a book for everybody and once young readers really get that, they will come back to it on their own, she says. “Reading as a family or discussing books together brings another interactive element that your child may enjoy.”
Whether your child is already an enthusiastic reader, or might benefit from a gentle nudge that could foster a love of reading, it’s worth checking out your local library to see what they offer in the way of a summer program. Happy reading!
Check your local library for TD Summer Reading Clubs!