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Summer must-read for kids? Any book at all

Has your child cracked a book since school let out?

Several studies have documented a “summer slide” in reading skills once kids go on summer vacation. The decline in reading and spelling skills are greatest among low-income students, who lose the equivalent of two months of school each summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association, an education advocacy group. And the loss compounds each year.

New research offers a surprisingly simple and affordable solution to the summer reading slide. In a three-year study, researchers at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville found that simply giving low-come children access to books — and allowing them to choose books that interested them — had a significant effect on the summer reading gap.

Children who chose reading books and those who picked free activity and puzzle books were tracked for three years. Those who had access to free reading books posted significantly higher test scores than the children who received activity books. The effect — 1/16th of a standard deviation in test scores — was equivalent to a child attending three years of summer school. The difference in scores was twice as high among the poorest children in the study.

One of the notable findings of the study was that children improved their reading scores even though they typically weren’t selecting the curriculum books or classics that teachers normally assign for summer reading. That conclusion confirms other studies suggesting that children learn best when they are allowed to select their own books.

Free tech training

Next Thursday, Aug. 23, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Tiffany and Cody will conduct a 3M e-book workshop to teach you the new e-book platform and provide the information you need to get started. For more information on this new faster, easier system to download free e-books, see the July 26 Library News column.

On Wednesday, Aug. 29, from 11 a.m. to noon, Cody will go into the basics of communicating on Skype. Learn how to set up an account and begin video chatting with friends and family on the Internet.

On Tech Tuesdays, informal one-on-one sessions help you with whatever problems you are having, take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 14 and 28, and 3 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 21. The times are staggered to better serve our patrons’ different schedules.

Note that it is urgent that you sign up in advance for all tech classes. When signups are ignored, too many people show up and we do not have enough space for everyone, so please help us avoid that problem.

Free film tomorrow

Join us at 2 p.m. for the third of our free Friday afternoon historical fiction films when we will show “The Man in the Iron Mask,” the 1998 action movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeremy Irons. Note the earlier starting time because this film is longer than usual.

Fall Gardening Workshop

Save the date of Thursday, Aug. 30, from 6 to 7:15 p.m. for a Fall Gardening Workshop. Bonnie Sprague of High Plains Nursery will teach you what to do with your shrubs and perennials in the fall.

Mysteries and thrillers

“The Wrath of Shiva” by Susan Oleksiw is the latest in the Anita Ray mystery series set in South India. “15 Seconds” by Andrew Cross starts with a routine traffic stop that becomes an elaborate frame for murder. “Buried on Avenue B” by Peter De Jonge is a mystery that begins when the skeleton of a 10-year-old is unearthed. “Let the Devil Sleep” by John Verdon is the latest in the mystery series featuring NYPD’s Dave Gurney. “Judgment Call” by J.A. Jance is the latest in the mystery series featuring Sheriff Joanna Brady. ”Fireproof” by Alex Kava is a thriller featuring Special Agent Maggie O’Dell leading the search for a serial arsonist. “Dare Me” by Megan Abbott tells of a suicide that draws a police investigation to a coach and her cheerleading squad. “Flight from Berlin” by David John is an historical thriller set during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Nonfiction for students

“Help Your Kids with Science” is a step-by-step visual guide using colorful diagrams and illustrations to help parents helps their children learn biology, chemistry and physics. “Help Your Kids with Math” uses the same techniques for arithmetic, geometry, algebra and statistics. “F for Effort!” by Richard Benson features more hilarious — but wrong — answers from students on their tests and homework.

Memoirs and biographies

“The Long Walk: The Story of War and the Life that Follows” by Brian Castner is a memoir of a bomb squad commander who served three tours of duty in the Middle East. “Can’t Is Not an Option” by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is a memoir of family, hope and the power of the American Dream. “A Daughter’s Tale” by Mary Soames is the memoir of Winston Churchill’s youngest child, now approaching her 90th birthday. “Capitol Punishment” by Jack Abramoff is described as “the hard truth about Washington corruption from America’s most notorious lobbyist.”

Other nonfiction

“It’s the Middle Class, Stupid” by political guru James Carville and pollster Stan Greenberg argues that taking on the wealthy and privileged is a matter of survival for the average American. “Show Dog” by Josh Dean is the story of a dog taking part in dog shows, a year-long record about dogs, breeders and dog show fans. “Ball” by anthropologist John Fox explores the little known origins of our favorite sports across the centuries. “Paleo Comfort Foods” by Julie and Charles Mayfield provides 125 recipes for anyone living a paleo, primal or gluten-free lifestyle.

Large print Christian fiction

“Against the Wind” by Bodie and Brock Thoene, known as, “superstars of historical Christian fiction,” is the latest in the Zion Diaries series.

Thanks to our donors

For books and materials this week, we thank Kelly Fischer, Karen Seielstad Heck, Pam Kercher, Mercedes Leist, Anna O’Reilly, Carol Otis, Kurt Raymond, Margaret Soniat and Lynda Williams.

Quotable quote

“People make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” — Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the U.S.


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