[kids-lib] summer reading articles

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Wed Nov 24 16:55:49 PST 2010

This Spring and Summer I did quite a bit of research around summer reading and literacy development in my work with OLA’s Children’s Services Division (CSD) and Oregon Young Adult Network (OYAN) to more clearly define components of high-quality public library summer reading programs.  The components of high-quality summer reading programs document will be finalized and distributed on this listserv in March 2011.  In the mean time, I encourage you to read the following two articles from the November 2010 issues of School Library Journal which neatly sum up almost everything I learned during my research earlier this year.

Summer Reading Programs Boost Student Achievement, Study Says
By Carole Fiore and Susan Roman
Based on the findings of a recent three-year study by Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, we can confirm what many librarians have long suspected: students who take part in their local library’s summer reading program significantly improve their reading skills.

This good news couldn’t have come at a better time. Although summer reading programs began more than a century ago and more than 95 percent of public libraries now offer them, people are challenging their value more than ever. In today’s tough economy, many library funders want proof that their tax dollars are being spent wisely.

If you want to read the Dominican Study much of this article is based, it is available online at: http://www.dom.edu/academics/gslis/downloads/DOM_IMLS_book_2010_FINAL_web.pdf

Meeting Readers Where They Are: Mapping the Intersection of Research and Practice
By Carol Gordon
Here are a few things that really stuck with me through my research that are also mentioned in this article:

Extrinsic rewards, often combined with competition, suggest that young people are resistant to reading… Meeting readers where they are, rather than expecting them to meet us where we think they should be, is critical to reading motivation.

What do successful reading motivation strategies have in common with why tweens and teens like being online? Whether teens are reading a book or blogging, they like interactive, hands-on experiences... They are self-directed learners who know free choice is part of being creative.

Free voluntary reading (FVR) is not only conducive to reading motivation, it actually works better than direct instruction. (Read the article for 3 studies that indicate FVR is better than direct instruction)

Free choice is violated when schools [and public library summer reading programs] give preference to books, especially for low achievers, and fail to validate alternative media such as magazines, newspapers, and websites.

Despite what the research shows us, many educators insist that summer reading should be curricular and students should read “good” books.

This research has me thinking about the implications in public library summer reading programs.  It is a common practice for summer reading programs to track the number of books a kid reads, but this practice ignores the FVR research around kids who prefer to read magazine, newspapers, comic books, websites, and other non-traditional formats.  Other topics it has me thinking about are: how many summer reading incentives do we really need, who selects children/teen book club titles, do we need to purchase every single award winning title for the library, and what is a good balance between popular passive summer reading performers and interactive programs.  What does this article get you thinking about?

Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528
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