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Helping young readers avoid ‘summer slide’

Lazy summer days are here as school has officially been out for several weeks now. Summer is the perfect time for swimming, family vacations and catching up on a good book.

Reading isn’t just fun; it is also important to help prepare kids to succeed in life. Reading, especially by third grade, can be the determining factor for which kids succeed in life and which kids struggle. Schools first promote learning to read, then promote reading to learn. Up until the third grade, students are learning the basic principles of reading. After that, those skills become tools to learn about and explore the world around them.

That’s why the Allen County Public Library cares so much about education and reading skills retention. At the library, we strive to not only help kids keep the skills they already have but to also build on them. Reading during the summer helps to prevent “summer slide” – the decrease of reading skills during the summer months. ACPL offers two summer reading programs – one for children birth through entering fifth grade, and one for those entering sixth through 12th grade. Kids and teens can get rewards for reading. Parents can also sign up for a chance to win something for doing literacy activities with their young children. Both programs run through July 25, so there’s still time to join the fun and prevent the dreaded summer slide.

The library is a strong partner with United Way, through both a workplace campaign and the Education Network – a network of 30 local organizations that provide educational services to youth. United Way acts as a coordinator for around 30 Education Network members. These organizations discuss what resources are available for Allen County’s kids and what we can do to help them succeed. One of the main focuses is reinforcing literacy skills.

The Summer Reading Program, and similar programs at other local community organizations, help to prevent the loss of these important skills. Our kids have worked hard all year; now reward them while also preventing the “summer slide.” Stop by the library, pick up one of our thousands of books, sign up for our Summer Reading Program, and don’t forget to attend one of our fun events. The resources at the library are free, but the rewards for encouraging reading at any age are worth their weight in gold.

To learn more about the Summer Reading Program, visit www.acpl or For more information about United Way and their education initiatives, please visit

Angela Eck is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Allen County Public Library and participates in the United Way’s Education Network as well as the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s Big Goal Collaborative. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.