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Editorial columns

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Journal Entry

Summertime, and the readin’ is easy

A Harris Interactive survey finds just 17 percent of parents believe reading is the top summer priority for children. Nearly as many said taking it easy is how their children should spend the summer.

When Harris Interactive dug deeper, they found 65 percent of parents said their children didn’t read more last summer because they preferred to play with toys or friends. An astonishing 86 percent of parents said they never visited the library with their child last summer.

Summer is synonymous with books and libraries in my experience. Granted, I grew up in a time when an air-conditioned library was a welcome escape from the heat, but my childhood memories are as much about tackling a pile of books from the shade of the neighbor’s maple tree and pushing bedtime limits with a book and flashlight under the covers. I can’t imagine a childhood summer without a library and books.

Is there no time for Laura Ingalls Wilder and her “Little House on the Prairie”? How about “Charlotte’s Web” and the extraordinary Wilbur? Does Ramona Quimby no longer give 5-year-olds the confidence to tackle kindergarten?

Perhaps computers and tablets are the reading delivery method for busy parents today, but they still should make time for the library. Summer reading program alumni should be happy to know that the programs continue. Allen County Public Library invites children through grade 5 to log the hours they spend reading or are read to for prizes that include books to keep.

The new survey, conducted for Reading is Fundamental and Macy’s, is designed to underscore the important role summer reading plays in preventing learning loss in the months between school’s end and start. It also underscores the long and lazy days that turn reading from a chore into a treasured pastime.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor, has worked at The Journal Gazette since 2000 and for Indiana newspapers since 1982. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by email, kfrancisco@jg.net.

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