Evanston Public Library announces summer reading programs for children Evanston Public Library hosts reading programs for young people
This summer, pay attention to the chalk messages of kindness from children participating in the Evanston Public Library youth programs.
As part of EPL’s 2022 Summer Reading Challenge, kids are busy scratching squares in a bingo-like game that encourages reading through activities like creating new superheroes and writing of poems.
Instead of Bingo, children receive a Read-o card based on this summer’s theme: an ‘Beyond the Beaten Path’ reading journey that encourages exploration of new genres and authors.
“It’s a summer program designed to inspire kids to buy books over the summer,” said Jenette Sturges, EPL’s communications and marketing manager. “Every time you read a book or do an activity, you can scratch off a sticker on the Read-o card.”
Every summer, the EPL organizes youth programs to encourage summer reading. Activities include clubs, story hours and contests for all ages. The programming aims to help students avoid a “summer slide” that affects their level of education and reading.
Between June and September, children can lose up to three months of progress made in the previous school year and fall behind their new grade level, Sturges said. Reading just five books over the summer can help children avoid this decline, she said, but those without access to reading materials at home are particularly vulnerable.
At EPL’s Main Library, children’s librarian Kim Daufeldt hosts storytimes, including a special “All Alone” storytime for children ages 3-5. In addition to sharing new books, she plans artistic and musical activities around the themes of the story.
“It will actually be on its own for the first time in almost two years,” Daufeldt said. “The idea is that they are big kids in training. They learn to go out and do things for themselves.
Although most library programs have returned to in-person formats, COVID-19 has brought about long-term changes. In 2020, Daufeldt moved storytimes online and designed crafts to use household items. Children’s librarian Brian Wilson has also recorded his stories to provide online access.
“We’ve learned over the past two years to be really flexible,” Wilson said.
Since the fall of 2020, Wilson has continued to host his Caldecott club online. Students in grades one through eight discuss books and rate artwork on Zoom. A microwave cooking class remains online for elementary school children.
This summer, EPL will expand outdoor programming at both branches, including Family Storytimes at Cornelia Lunt Park and Fountain Square. Through outdoor events, EPL also expands community access to reading material. One initiative, EPL on the Fly!, distributes free books, crafts and STEAM kits to children in parks and beaches. Interested families can learn more about the EPL and register on site for library cards.
Summer programs can improve outcomes for community members, Sturges said. To continue funding these programs, EPL is seeking donations and planning a campaign this summer to raise funds.
“We have the opportunity to impact equity by putting STEM books and kits in the hands of children.” said Sturges. “Summer reading is a great tool for building equity.”
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