Summer Reading

Summer Reading

We didn't make it into town very often in the summers. My brother and I were stuck reading the books our parents owned. My mother was a librarian and my father was a voracious reader, so we never suffered for anything to read, but most of it wasn't what we would have chosen ourselves. I remember poring over a 1920s book of riddles and conundrums that had belonged to my grandmother when she was a child. It contained jewels like "A man, a plan, a canal. Panama."

Educators talk about "The Summer Slide." During the summer many kids lose part of what they learned over the last school year. Summer reading programs are meant to decrease that slide.

Libraries developed summer reading programs in the 1890s as a way to encourage school children to use the library and develop the habit of reading for enjoyment- outside of school. Many children couldn't participate because they were working in the fields. Others were not allowed into libraries because of the color of their skin. 

Now most public libraries offer summer reading programs for adults and teens as well as children. They have evolved from keeping track of the books a child reads over the summer. Many libraries offer creative programming involving hands-on learning and fun activities along with reading challenges.  Everyone is welcome in the library, and those who don't come to town often can use Libby and Overdrive to read.  

Gering Public Library's summer reading kick off party is June 1 at Legion Park from 3:00-5:00 p.m. We have all sorts of fun planned that day and throughout the month. We have storytimes planned for the little ones and experiments, games and plays for bigger kids. Teens can compete at trivia, and Squid Games. 

When you return books this summer, make sure the librarian knows which school you attend. The grade schools compete for a coveted traveling trophy which is awarded to the school whose students read the most books over the summer.

Reading is essential to learning, but so is math. If you want to keep your child's math skills sharp over the summer, I recommend www.bedtimemath.org. It's a fun website (also available as an app) that provides a daily math problem for kids of all ages- and it doesn't feel like schoolwork.

Summer reading isn't just for kids. Adults can create art and learn about bees and cryptocurrency this summer. Graduating is no excuse to stop learning and growing. Stop in the Gering Library for more information or check out our webpage at www.gering.org/library. We have lots of fun planned this summer and you won't want to miss out.

I spent summers in my early teens reading books like "Slogum House" (1937) by Mari Sandoz, "The Good Earth" (1931) by Pearl S. Buck, and "Kon Tiki" (1948) by Thor Heyerdahl. My brother remembers enjoying "You're Stepping On My Cloak and Dagger" (1957) by Roger Hall and lots of Ian Flemming books. (He developed James Bond.) While we had access to a lot of books, I am not sure they would be on any teacher's reading list for grade school students. If you can, I encourage you to come to the library and participate in the summer reading program. It beats giving your kid 50-year-old adult books to read. (I highly recommend "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay" (1942) by Cornelia Otis Skinner.)