Is it possible that we are already a month-deep into summer and July is right around the corner? Feels like yesterday that we were handing out teacher gifts, packing the last of lunches, and making exciting summer break itineraries to keep us busy as honeybees until the back-to-school rush of August rains on our heat-fueled parade. Now, the newness of our homework-free days is wearing thin and it’s safe to say that around our house, we are fully-entrenched in our new daily routine of, “I’m bored!,” “He’s touching me!,” and a break-neck sprint at noon (our family’s electronics ground rule) to see who can grab the X-Box controller first.
What happened to our big plans of morning STEM activities and mind-enriching crafts, and baked-from-scratch healthy snacks, peppered with a heaping dose of educational television shows? The reading logs, earn-your-electronics chore lists, and summer bucket list I so carefully curated in May were being beat out by YouTube Kids and unending rounds of Minecraft, and the only quality reading happening around here was on the Netflix menu. Our summer to end all summers started slipping away faster than I could say, “Jo Jo Siwa.”
Enter, the library. Our three kids love the library. It is easily one of their favorite local outings. But in the crazy of everyday life, I have to be extra intentional about getting us there on a regular basis. Have you ever heard of the “Summer Slide?” It’s a real thing and one that was quickly taking over our house. The short explanation of the Summer Slide is this: without working during summer to retain what was learned over the last school year, students will lose approximately two months of their reading achievement and standardized test scores start to tank. Yikes. Luckily, only 20 minutes of reading a day has been proven to counteract this summertime brain drain and help keep kiddos sharp for fall.
“You don’t have to sit in a quiet room and read silently next to them,” says Victoria Stephens with the Metropolitan Library System. “Parents can engage with their children by asking them to read street signs while they are traveling or reading along to an audiobook.”
Our most recent trip to the Edmond Library started as every good excursion should — with a quick lunch at a local restaurant complete with burgers, fries, and lots of crayons. Stomachs full and masterpieces created, we rolled up in the library parking lot and strutted up to the glass doors like knowledge-starved readers on a mission. Once inside, we scattered. My biggest (although technically a tween) wanted nothing to do with the children’s room and hightailed it to “Teen Corner” with its Young Adult selections and graphic novels. I lost him quickly to some weird book with a name I couldn’t pronounce and a plot I couldn’t pinpoint. Perfect. He was engrossed. My middle child started looking for the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid title and soft spot to land, and my six-year-old — the only girl in our bunch — bumped into a friend from school and joined her on a search for books about unicorns before she started reaching for any easy read with a cute cover that she could get her hands on.
While we were there, we enrolled in the library’s “WILD About Reading!” summer reading program. It’s free and easy — track your minutes from June 1-July 31 and earn prizes for each milestone met. You can track online with the Beanstack Tracker or with an old-school paper log available at the library or the Metropolitan Library System’s website (metrolibrary.org). We grabbed a calendar of the Edmond Library’s events (also available online) and I immediately started noting the options I thought my three would enjoy such as Mad Science, School-Age Storytime, and the video game tournament for teens. Other top-notch options include the Origami Tsunami, Mister Puppet Show, Little Hands Art Camp, and the Neighborhood Arts Program featuring local performers touring all the metro library locations.
An hour later, I made the rounds to collect my three readers and we journeyed to the exit, arms full of our favorite selections. And even though I know that the battle of electronics and brain-rotting rounds of Roblox are far from over, I feel better knowing they will come after counting Bartholomew McCubbins’ hats, a trip through Narnia, or a date with Captain Underpants.
The Edmond Library is located at 10 South Boulevard in Edmond. For more information call 405-341-9282 or metrolibrary.org.