June is the end of the school year, but it’s the beginning of King County Library System’s annual Summer Reading Program, and we’re offering a variety of fun, educational activities to keep kids engaged and learning throughout the summer.
Summer reading programs are designed to bridge the learning gap between the end of the academic year and the start of school in September, helping children keep up on core subjects like reading and math in order to avoid the “summer slide.”
This year’s theme is “A Universe of Stories” and kids will enjoy science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) programs such as “Mars Rover Races” and “The Wonders of Space Show” along with presentations by KidsQuest Museum (“Extraterrestrial Engineering”) and the Museum of Flight (“The Portable Universe”).
It’s not just children who get into the spirit of summer reading. In 2018, more than 78,000 children, teens — and adults — participated in the program, logging minutes read at home, at the library, or at one of our “Summer Reading in the Park” events. And registrations continued to grow, increasing 12 percent for children and 21 percent for teens, which included 65 students at the King County Juvenile Detention Center in Seattle. In all, summer reading participants read an impressive 32.2 million minutes.
An important component of our Summer Reading Program is summer meals. Volunteers from partner agencies throughout King County serve free, nutritious lunches and snacks for children and teens who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, while KCLS children and teen librarians offer reading and educational activities at libraries and community sites where the meals are served. And the KCLS Foundation generously provides books for giveaways.
Another partnership that benefits patrons in the summer is our Student Account Program. In collaboration with 18 public school districts and local community and technical colleges, KCLS offers K-12 and college students a special library account that can be used to access eBooks, downloadable materials, databases and other online resources year-round. There is no physical card issued with the accounts — the student account number incorporates the student’s school ID number so it’s easy to remember when school is out.
KCLS supports hands-on learning during the summer, as well. Activities at the ideaX Makerspace at Bellevue Library, Girls Who Code classes, Math Poems workshops, and Instrument Petting Zoos are just a few of the many popular STEAM programs KCLS offers. And, of course, all are free.
The KCLS Summer Reading Program kicked off on Saturday, June 1. Check your local library or kcls.org for a schedule of events near you.
Lisa Rosenblum is the executive director of the King County Library System.