What are you going to do this summer? What about sharing some classic tales or starting new reading adventures with your kids or grandkids? Think about making reading a summer family activity by using the resources of your local public library.
Partnering for literacy is an ongoing concept with Kentucky’s libraries, and on May 8, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton kicked off the Bluegrass Book Buddies Challenge, the state’s new literacy initiative, whose participants include public libraries, the Kentucky Library Association and the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.
About 60 library supporters and public librarians were part of an enthusiastic audience that joined Hampton, Gov. Matt Bevin and assorted literacy partners in planning for Summer Reading 2017.
The initiative, Hampton said, involves three steps: Pick a buddy, pick a book and post a blurb. To spread the word about Kentucky reading, participants can post on social media using the hashtags #BluegrassBookBuddies and #KVB3.
Public libraries have offered free summer programs for over a century, with the aim of growing a child’s reading abilities. Last year, 396,023 Kentuckians were involved in summer reading programs. Activities were held in libraries, as well as at day cares, schools, community-based summer feeding programs, nursing homes and county parks. Resources to help you learn, grow, connect and create are free and available in all 120 counties.
Many libraries are planning programs around the Build a Better World theme. Books are read to babies and toddlers, helping them develop listening skills, build vocabulary and form the basis for reading. Toddlers also may do interactive activities and learn socialization skills as a springboard to school.
Libraries keep kids thinking, reading and absorbing all summer. Children enjoy reading for the fun of it without the pressure of school assignments. They develop reading habits by exploring books in areas that interest them. The result is increased learning comprehension and an enhanced comfort level with reading.
Summer learning programs are designed to combat the slide that often affects students during school break. Many libraries offer activities that tie into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum. Others are home to a community garden or give students an opportunity to work at an archeological dig. Hands-on computer usage is central. There are poetry readings and opportunities to build robots.
Bored teens and tweens can sign up for a library program that offers reading challenges, structured learning activities and opportunities to be a leader.
And because it is difficult for hungry kids to learn, public libraries in many communities are providing or partnering with feeding sites for the summer as part of the “Kids Eat: Friends, Fun and Food” initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These summer supplements help combat poverty and food insecurity, and support the develop of literacy skills.
Libraries also welcome adults to pursue the perfect vacation read or rediscover classic works. Many libraries feature book clubs where you discuss an assigned book or share your latest favorite read.
Kentucky is building educational attainment and literacy. Lexington is pursuing the goal of becoming a UNESCO “City of Literature.” What better way to demonstrate that we love and value our kids and ourselves that by participating in summer reading programs at our libraries and finding your Bluegrass Book Buddy. Let’s become a commonwealth of readers.
Judith Gibbons of Versailles is a member of the Friends of Kentucky Libraries.