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CHECK THIS OUT: Summer Reading Club aims to lessen summer slide

Jackie Barber writes about how the Nelson Public Library can help students stay sharp
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Two participants from 2022’s Summer Reading Club share a story in the Nelson Public Library. Photo: Submitted

by Jackie Barber

When you first hear the words “summer slide” you may picture a water park or playground, or maybe memories of burning your bare legs on one of those old metal slides. But summer slide is not as fun as it sounds (even less fun than a hot metal slide). Also known as “summer learning loss,” summer slide is the decline in reading ability and other academic skills that can happen when children are out of school for vacation.

Researchers have been studying this phenomenon since the 1990s, concluding that summer slide usually varies across age, grade, subject matter, and socioeconomic status, but, on average, a student loses one month of learning over the summer months.

So, what can you do to avoid this common problem? Well, the Nelson Public Library is here to help, with our annual Summer Reading Club! Regularly visiting your local library, letting your children check out books that interest them, and challenging themselves to set personal goals can all contribute to not going down that not-so-fun slide.

There are two main components to the club. The first is having your child keep track of their reading over the summer with a Reading Record (which you can pick up at the library any time after July 4). Kids can set their own personal goals, such as reading a chapter by themselves or having a picture book read to them, and after checking off seven goals they can collect a sticker. Since it is a B.C.-wide program, you can also collect stickers when visiting other libraries across the province. Participants who complete their booklets will get a real medal at the end of the summer!

The second component of Summer Reading Club are free in-person activities for school-aged children (six-to-12-years-old), as well as exploration and story circle for zero-to-six-year-olds and their caregivers. The school-aged activities will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to noon, July 4 to Aug. 17. Caregivers will be able to drop off their children for two hours of literacy, science, crafting, and fun (while the adults get some much-needed chore and rest time).

Babies, toddlers, and pre-school kids and their caregivers will have activities on Wednesdays. There will also be one Saturday event on July 15 to increase accessibility to families who work during the week, put on by UBCO-based Let’s Talk Science program.

This year the B.C. SRC chose a dinosaur theme with the slogan “Journey Through Time,” but we are mixing things up a bit and expanding our focus to include science, climate change and Indigenous learning. We are planning to host a number of special guest speakers, which will hopefully include ambassadors from the City of Nelson’s Climate and Energy Department, the Firehall’s wildfire prep mascot Ember the FireSmart Fox, an educator from the Circle of Indigenous Nations Society (COINS) to facilitate traditional storytelling and drumming, and a local Metis youth to teach some traditional Metis handicrafts.

With Erin the Student Co-ordinator’s science and lab experiment background, and my love of crafting with recycled materials, Nelson Library’s Summer Reading Club 2023 is shaping up to host engaging, exciting and diverse summer programming.

Stay tuned for more information, which will be shared via social media as well as on the library website’s events page (www.nelsonlibrary.ca) and see you in the library!

Jackie Barber is children’s services librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out appears monthly.