Summer reading programs provide fun, and much more

As we reported last week, summer reading programs are in full swing at area libraries. Local librarians are earning their keep during these months keeping young minds active and opening young lives to all the joys that can be found in books.

These reading programs offer parties, performances and prizes, but they are far from frivolous.

Scores of studies have shown that the old adage that children get “dumber over the summer” is, in fact, true. What is more, the 2 1/2 months of learning downtime each summer cause a cumulative loss. That is, children who fall back each summer do not catch up again with those among their peers who keep learning during the break.

As one might guess, the most likely children to miss out on summer learning, and so to fall behind, are children from families that struggle economically.

Library summer reading programs are fun, but they are also a great supplement to the work done in schools the rest of the year.

They can help children who might otherwise fall behind to keep up, and they can help all children develop lifelong habits of reading and self-guided learning.

There are few childhood activities that can provide what reading can in the way of brain development and intellectual growth.

Some studies suggest that any materials children read - it doesn’t have to be highbrow novels - bring them benefits. One study found that children who read more than 2,000 words a day - no matter what the material - gain measureable benefits in vocabulary.

So, any kind of reading is worth encouraging.

For parents who would like ideas on good books for kids of any age, however, the National Endowment for the Humanities offers a list called Summertime Favorites. The list provides dozens of great titles for each age group. It can be found at our Web site at, as can lots of summer reading tips, links and lists.

We salute the librarians and teachers who do so much to promote reading. We encourage families to take advantage of the offerings of summer programs.

Resources to Get Started

Friends of the La Jolla Library

National endowment for the humanities summer favorites reading list