Salt Lake County Library celebrates summer reading with a big challenge
Jul 03, 2019 03:41PM
● By Jordan Hafford
Representatives from the Natural History Museum of Utah encourage curiosity among children at the Summer Reading Challenge (Audrey Livingston/Salt Lake County Library)
By Jordan Hafford | [email protected]
While kids may often be found in front of little black screens, the county library system hopes to change that this summer.
Salt Lake County Library’s Summer Reading Challenge is an annual event intended to keep everyone—pre-readers, kids, teens and adults—reading and learning throughout the summer.
“Summer reading programs have been going on for years,” said Liz Sollis, marketing and communications manager for the Salt Lake County Library. “The main reason for the program is to prevent what is commonly referred to as ‘Summer Slide,’ when an individual slides out of practice with reading and learning during the summer months.”
Participation in the challenge directly correlates with maintaining and increasing literacy according to a University of Utah study on the value of summer reading and learning and even going so far as to exhibit a marked increase in young students’ basic early literacy scores.
To raise awareness and enthusiasm for potential participants, West Jordan Library officials held a kickoff event, which included all sorts of wholesome fun for readers of all ages: face painting, laser tag, karaoke, rock climbing, train rides and a movie in the park at dusk.
This year’s kickoff yielded around 4,000 children and families, where they were given the opportunity to sign up for Summer Reading and collect a reading record, connect with other county agencies and West Jordan partners, as well as learn something new—all of which count as an activity on their reading record.
All program finishers are rewarded with a free book, a ticket to Library Days at the Natural History Museum of Utah and an entry into a drawing for other prizes.
“We know people learn in a variety of ways and have modified our Summer Reading Challenge to include reading, creating, learning, connecting and playing as activities that count toward the activity,” Sollis said.
In 2018, nearly 28,000 children, 7,500 teens and more than 23,000 adults signed up for the Summer Reading Challenge. The popularity only seems to be increasing as each summer comes and goes.
“I just love reading during my summer break,” said 12-year-old Sadie Halsworth of West Jordan. “It’s kind of like a vacation for your mind if you think about it!”
The challenge itself lasts from that initial burst of life that comes with the new summer through the end of July, when those first calls of autumn begin whispering through the trees.
And while some of us are yet to plan (or afford) that elaborate, tropical vacation, we can hope and expect that our young and curious little minds are already off exploring Neverland, Hogwarts or the Hundred Acre Wood.