President Obama has called for each of us to do our part in our community as participants in a national movement, United We Serve. Researchers estimate that children lose, on average, up to 2 months progress on reading skills over the summer months. The best ways to address the summer reading loss is by reading to kids and getting to read on their own.
One of the best resources for parents is the public library. On Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan led a delegation to Fanwood Memorial Library in New Jersey to hear, first hand, how librarians are engaging students and entire communities in creating educational environments in school and out of school, all year long. Then he kicked off his own “Summer of Service” by reading to 40 local children who had come to the library after school.
Arne and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine heard from over 35 public and school librarians about the resources that their libraries provide to an entire school and community and how the librarians themselves are resources. Participants talked about programs run by libraries and ways that they partner with everyone in our communities to reach as many children and parents as possible. They heard about how librarians use of technology, particularly the Internet, to continually reinvent themselves to remain a key resource. Arne talked about the importance of getting kids truly engaged in reading so that it becomes their passion, not just an assignment.
To get us all passionate about the effects of reading to kids, we headed outside. Arne and Governor Corzine treated the crowd to a reading of Wide Mouthed Frog and How I Spent My Summer Vacation. The kids and adults were thoroughly amused and many of them headed right into the library to get some more books.
We can all use this collective push to service as an opportunity to continue creating learning environments throughout the summer and the entire year. Here at the Department of Education, employees tutor students weekly through the school year. And, through the summer, Arne will be leading cabinet members and senior Administration officials in reading to kids each week on the front plaza of our office building. To post or find opportunities near you, check out www.serve.gov.
What are some of the best programs that you’ve seen or employed to create more learning time? How can you see yourself involved in this Summer of Service and United We Serve? What are some of your favorite books to read aloud?