News

Libraries encourage summer reading to keep kids sharp

By MARGO HORNER

The Mirror

Kids who don’t read during the summer risk losing skills and falling behind when they return to school in the fall.

“They could lose half a grade level by the time they go back,” said Sabina Wagner, assistant manager at the Federal Way Regional Library.

To combat kids falling behind in reading skills, Federal Way libraries are hosting the Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales summer reading program.

Wagner recommends that children spend at least 20 minutes a day reading.

Melissa Kreckman, a second-grade teacher at Mark Twain Elementary, agrees that reading while school is out is essential.

“It really can hurt you if you don’t do anything over the summer except veg in front of the TV,” Kreckman said.

At her own house, her 6-year-old daughter, Morga,n reads every day, Kreckman said.

“She wants to read,” she said. “We have books all over our house.”

Most kids want to read, Kreckman said. But if they don’t, it’s important to read to them.

“At least they’re getting that vocabulary,” she said.

Libraries are also critical in keeping kids motivated to read during the summer, Kreckman said.

Wagner agreed.

“Libraries host summer programs to encourage kids to keep reading throughout the summer so when they get back to school in the fall, they’re caught up and where they left off in June,” Wagner said.

Each week this summer, Federal Way libraries will host children’s events and story times.

Funding is provided by the King County Library System and the Federal Way Friends of the Libraries.

In addition to reading time, the libraries will host a variety of live-entertainment shows for kids throughout the summer. Puppet shows, musicals and plays are just a few of the performances planned.

The performances are educational because they include storytelling and poetry, said Lisa Barkhurst, a children’s librarian at Federal Way libraries.

All the events are free. Tickets are available a half-hour before the show.

It’s a good idea to come early if you want a seat, Wagner said.

Librarians will hand out a limited number of tickets in an attempt to prevent the overwhelming crowds they saw last year.

“People shouldn’t think they can walk in five minutes before and be guaranteed a seat,” Wagner said. “We’ve had such overflow crowds of people that people were spewing out the doors.”

For those who would rather stay home, the library is sponsoring a summer reading camp for kids. Points are accumulated for minutes spent reading or being read to. Beginning July 15, points can be exchanged for prizes, including free pizza and backpacks.

Getting enough practice reading over the summer isn’t a problem for Rebecca Jorren, 9.

Jorren, a fourth-grade student at Valhalla Elementary, said she reads a half-hour every night during the summer because she enjoys it.

“I just want to keep doing it,” Jorren said. “I like nonfiction — books about horses.”

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