Premier John Horgan and Education Minister Rob Fleming read stories to kids at the James Bay Library in Victoria on July 3. (Greater Victoria Public Library photo)

Public library battles ‘summer slide’ in children’s literacy

Youth track daily reading and enjoy weekly incentives from the Greater Victoria Public Library

The Greater Victoria Public Library arms kids with literacy every summer. This summer, the inclusive reading program.

Whether you’re reading at home or on holidays, kids 12 and younger track their daily reading on a free reading record available at any GVPL branch, and enjoy weekly incentives (read prizes) along the way.

“Summer reading club helps kids develop or maintain daily reading habits in a fun way,” says Sarah Harrison, one of three public services librarians with GVPL that co-ordinate the annual program. “The program is in place because of the summer slide … if they don’t keep up with reading, all their work during the school year tends to slide back a little bit.”

Every year they visit all eligible students in school districts 61, 62 and 63, encouraging registration for the program that starts right after school ends, and wraps the day before the school year starts.

“The summer slide, it’s real, kids often drop a couple of reading levels over the summer and that’s why this program was designed many, many years ago,” Harrison said. The BC Summer Reading Club is a nationwide program, tweaked for individual libraries and communities. Last year more than 8,000 young people registered across the GVPL, doubling since 2008. In the first week of 2018, 4,500 registered.

“Kids come into the library to pick up their free reading record an then they take their reading record home with them and do the reading,” Harrison said. They suggest a minimum 20 minutes every day. “After they’ve read for a week, they come back into the library and we give them a sticker and a prize. And the prizes get more exciting the longer they participate.”

For the third year Panago Pizza offers up the Week 6 prize – a certificate for a personal pizza. The popular Week 5 prize is a recreation centre pass (usable across the region); while Week 4 is a ballot prize, where names are drawn for passes donated by local attractions such as Flying Squirrel, Western Speedway, Boulders Climbing Gym. For the full for seven weeks, kids can earn a book or a medal.

“While kids could come in on the last day of school. It’s any time in the summer they can join… it’s a self-paced program,” Harrison said.

She also points out that reading means different things to different kids. Given the diversity of young people, for some it’s listening to stories, or reading with help, or finishing a chapter book.

“We encourage kids to read whatever they want, pick their favourite book, learn something new, download an e-book and read it on the iPad, download a book and listen to it on a road trip. The goal is for kids to have fun reading,” Harrison said.

Summer Reading Program is one of more than 150 free library programs at branches throughout Greater Victoria this summer.

“Lots of different thing to keep kids engaged and having fun and its all free,” Harrison said.

For teens, they have the All That and a Bag of Chips book review club. Upon signing up, youth aged 10 to 18 get a free book and a bag of chips, sponsored by Fairway Market and Old Dutch. For every short book review they write this summer, they get entered to win prizes.

RELATED: Snacks an added incentive for teen summer reading

For adults and families, the Summer Challenge features 18 library-related challenges that encourage people to read and learn in different ways.

If participants share their completed challenge (with a photo or answer to a question) on Facebook or Twitter, using #gvplchallenge, they are entered into weekly prize draws. Challenges include taking a photo of a free little library box, taking a photo of your book shelf, reading a book by a local author, taking our Change Your Mind personality quiz and listening to an audiobook.

Challenge number 10 – Go paint outside this summer – references a new collection for the GVPL called Go Create.

“This is a new collection that we just launched at the grand opening of the sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay branch,” Harrison said. She expects it will only grow from the current easel rental.

RELATED: GVPL opens new sxʷeŋ’xʷəŋ taŋ’exw James Bay Branch

Visit gvpl.ca for a full list of programs.


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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