Arizona Libraries Encouraging Reading Summer West Valley

"Scholastic reports students and families with increased access to books and learning opportunities over the summer show an increased volume of reading"

Public libraries in Avondale, Tolleson and Goodyear are joining forces to encourage students to read over the upcoming summer break by providing free books and fun activities aimed at preventing the loss of academic skills referred to as the summer slide.

To determine if getting books into the hands of students and encouraging them to read can prevent the summer slide, data will be collected and analyzed by a team at the Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW).

Dubbed Open a Book Enter the Universe, the program is targeted to students from preschool to fourth grade. Participants who read just 20 minutes a day this summer will earn a free book (available in English and Spanish while supplies last). Active participants will also be invited to an end of summer celebration where they can receive more free books.

The program is underway at Tolleson Library, 9555 W. Van Buren Street; Sam Garcia Western Avenue Library, 495 E. Western Avenue, Avondale; and Goodyear Library, 14555 W. Van Buren Street.

“The National Center for Education Statistics suggests that the average student loses one to three months of learning over summer,” said Rep. Lorenzo Sierra, D-Avondale, who helped secure funding for the reading program from Desert Diamond Casino. “Parents can help their child keep their literacy skills up over the summer by mixing in a few minutes of reading into each day.”

Summer reading programs are not uncommon, but A Universe of Stories brings an added component with the VSUW data collection. VSUW will track participating student data from this current school year’s fourth quarter benchmark assessments and compare the data to next school year’s first quarter benchmark assessments to determine whether the program lessens the loss of learning that is typical among students in need.

“The data collection is unique, and if the results prove positive the analysis could go a long way toward both encouraging parents to have their kids participate in future years as well as help raise additional dollars to pay for more books and activities and fund a permanent summer program,” Sierra said.

Research completed by the global children’s publishing, education and media company Scholastic reports students and families with increased access to books and learning opportunities over the summer show an increased volume of reading, positive sentiments from families, and fewer students experiencing summer learning loss.

In fact, the research shows 78% of students from grades three through five maintained or increased their reading levels from spring to fall; 100% of families agreed reading books over the summer would help their children during the school year; and 87% of students in third grade who received summer books agreed that they were better readers in the fall because of the reading they did over the summer.