Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Story Behind Summer Reading Programs

Summer reading assigned at the end of the school year was a not-so-unfortunate fact of life for me as an elementary school student. Having a great love for reading, I would launch into the books with glee. I would even go on to pick up books that weren't on the reading list, just for my amusement.

Two girls take a break from the playground slide to stop summer slide.
Image via http://www.rascofromrif.org
Although I'm sure other kids weren't as enthusiastic as I was about summer reading, teachers and librarians were determined to prevent what's known as "summer slide - when kids experience educational setbacks because of the three-month break from school," says Victoria Bekiempis in "10 Things You Should Know About Summer Reading." In her Village Voice article, Bekiempis offers some interesting facts on the history of summer reading programs in the United States, such as:

  • The United States's first summer reading program, begun in 1895, was in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • New York's first summer reading program was implemented in 1914, out on Long Island.
  • In 1946, a Kansas librarian made clear the point of the program: to prevent reading ability loss.
  • Computers were first incorporated into the nation's summer reading programs in 1983.

For more fascinating facts on summer reading, "a seasonal tradition as beloved as splashing in broken fire hydrants, playing on sidewalk slip-and-slides, barbecuing on fire escapes, and watching Fourth of July fireworks from a tenement rooftop," be sure to go to Victoria Bekiempis' article HERE.

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