A Journey Awaits — 2024 Summer Reading Program

May 30, 2024 in

Every nonprofit has its signature event. For the Boys and Girls Club, it’s the Taste of the Rogue; for Our Foster Kids, it’s the Masquerade Ball. For our Josephine Community Library, the main event is the Summer Reading Program. As schools let out and kids spill into the summer sun, our library gears up to launch its most ambitious program of the year, aimed at all ages, but especially our youngest and emerging readers.

I’m thrilled to announce that the 2024 Summer Reading Program is entirely crafted by our brilliant staff. It’s the product of passionate collaboration, leading to a universally engaging theme: “A Journey Awaits.” This year, we’re taking a voyage through Oregon, out into space, and into your own backyard — where books are your passport, and imagination is your destination.

Why is summer reading such a big deal? Reading over summer, especially for kindergarten to sixth grade, keeps the mind sharp and the learning curve unbroken. While the program is designed for all ages, it’s a critical tool to help third graders stave off the dreaded “summer slide.”

Researchers and educators agree — summer reading is key to long-term academic success. Numerous studies have shown that reading during the summer months prevents the “summer reading loss,” which can compound over time. By the end of sixth grade, children who lose reading skills over the summer can lag two years behind their peers. Decades of research show that children’s reading level in third grade is a key indicator of their future academic and life success.

And, for our older readers, remember, reading keeps you young. It’s a passport to escape into new worlds while keeping your mind vibrant and engaged. Diving into a good book can be as rejuvenating as a brisk walk. It’s helps improve memory and maintain mental agility.

Here’s a fact many don’t know: Studies have shown that reading can even reduce stress levels by up to 68 percent.

Through the library’s summer reading program, participants compete with themselves and their peers to read the most minutes over the summer. Last year, readers collectively logged more than 250,000 minutes of reading, equivalent to about 175 days straight of non-stop reading. This year, we’re setting our sights even higher: 300,000 minutes and over 1,000 participants, breaking last year’s record of 850 readers.

Participants can track their reading progress using our online reading tracker, earning raffle tickets for end-of-program prizes. Community members can find all the details at josephinelibrary.org, in the Daily Courier, the Country Weekly, or by visiting our branches in Grants Pass, Illinois Valley, Williams, and Wolf Creek for weekly themed activities, recommended reading, and interactive resources for all ages.

Are you ready to push your reading limits this summer? Online registration for the Summer Reading Program kicks off on June 1 — you and your family members can start early and finish whenever you like. Activity booklets, crafts, and registration prizes will be available for all ages, including teens and adults, at all branches starting June 16, while supplies last. We’ve added a competitive edge this year with reading challenges and rewards for logging the most minutes read.

The State Library of Oregon is equally as dedicated to this programming effort by allocating state funding through the Ready to Read Grant, distributing early literacy financial support to every public library system across the state. Other sponsors for this year’s program also include Evergreen Federal Bank and Josephine Community Library Foundation.

The 2024 Summer Reading Program and all related events are free for participants. No library card is needed to join the fun. But if you want a physical library card, visit your preferred branch library during open hours. Thanks to funding from the Josephine Community Library Foundation, we offer annual library card sponsorships for children and adults living in Josephine County, but outside the library district boundaries.

Every family planning their summer activities, whether at home or on vacation, can make summer reading a part of their adventure. Here’s to a summer filled with stories, discoveries, and the shared love of reading. Happy reading, everyone!

Between the Pages is a monthly column written by Kate Lasky for the Grants Pass Daily Courier. Ms. Lasky has worked with Josephine Community Library since 2009. She holds a master’s in education and recently completed her master’s in library science. To send comments or questions, email klasky@josephinelibrary.org.