Children risk riding the "summer slide" when school is out

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COLUMBIA - While schools are closed, educators want to make sure books are open. The Columbia Public Library is hosting its Summer Reading Program to encourage people to get lost in a good story.

Studies have shown students who become less engaged in school-like activities over the summer begin to lose some of the skills they gained during the school year.

When classes start again in the fall, many students have forgotten so much over break, they almost have to start from scratch, experts say.

"Reading is a life skill, so it should never stop," said Sarah Howard, the library's youth and community services manager.

The library offers a Summer Reading Program from May 30 - Aug. 11. This year's theme is "Libraries Rock!"

Howard said the goal is to prevent children from taking a trip down the "summer slide."

"That's when kids don't get enough practice at various things over the summer," she said. "It might be math, it might be reading."

Howard said the program keeps everyone active while school is out.

"One of the things the summer reading program can help with is to keep them reading throughout the summer, for this important life skill," she said. "Because we don't want anybody to stop reading."

The program covers all ages. One group covers ages 5-12.

"Different things happen for different ages," Howard said. "So, for example, they're going to read for 20 hours and do some activities. So it's more than just reading, it's also fun activities."

The program allows all members of the family to get involved.

One mother said the summer program is fun for the younger of her six children.

"They see their older brothers doing it," Jennifer Lundstrom said. "So, they're like 'where's my chart with the stickers?' I think it's good to have them all do it."

Lundstrom said the program also encourages her to participate.

"It helps me to sit down and read to them more too. So, it's good," she said.

The Columbia Public Library website has more information on the program.