What should your child read this summer?

SUN columnist, and the Library Staff

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-income 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.

Bottom line: What should your child read this summer? Any books will do!

Summer reading 

You still have a little time to sign up for this year’s free Summer Reading Program. In fact, you can do so any time before July 11. Activities are open to babies, toddlers, kids, teens and adults spending all or part of their summer in Archuleta County. You’ll be eligible for ongoing prizes including the grand prizes, a Nook tablet — one each for kids, teens and adults.

Detailed schedules are available at the library. We urge you to pick them up and keep them handy so you don’t miss any of these free fun events. Programs for the next week or so are listed below. Note that some events require advance registration. And mark your calendars for a free all-ages closing party on Friday, July 12 from 5:30-7 p.m. (after the library closes) that will include refreshments and the grand prize drawing at 6:45 p.m. R.S.V.P. required.

Kids’ programs

Examples of free programs for kids this coming week are special story time sessions throughout the week, and films every Friday at 10 a.m. featuring “Nanny McPhee” tomorrow (Friday, June 28) and “The Adventures of Brer Rabbit” on July 5.

Teen programs

Examples of free programs for teens this coming week are Steam Punk Jewelry from 1:30-2:45 p.m. July 1, and Teen Techies (11 a.m.-noon) and Teen Gaming (12:30-2 p.m.) on Wednesday, July 3. The film at noon tomorrow (June 28) is “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.” Also tomorrow (June 28) is a Henna tattoo session from 2-3 p.m. where you will make a natural-looking temporary form of body art.

Adult programs

Examples of free programs for adults include films based on books every Friday at 2:30 p.m., with “The Eagle” tomorrow (June 28). And join us Monday, July 1 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. for an art project. You will create a unique holder for your eReader, making it look like a book while protecting it from the elements.

Free tech programs

Meg Wempe is available for the highly popular Tech Tuesdays and Thursdays sessions 10 a.m.-noon Tuesdays and 3-5 p.m. Thursdays. Join her for one-on-one informal help on your computer or tablet issues. A more formal session requiring advance registration is Universal Class on Wednesday, July 10, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. when you will learn how to use this free online database to explore a variety of topics at your own pace.


“The Ministers” is a mystery about a 13-year-old unsolved murder. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” stars Robert Downey Jr. “IP Man” tells the life story of a brilliant martial arts teacher. “Gallipoli” is a drama about two patriotic young Army enlistees featuring Mel Gibson. “The Line” is an action drama set in Tijuana. “Angels and Demons” based on the Dan Brown book stars Tom Hanks. “Precious” based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire was an Academy Award nominee in 2009. “Julie & Julia” starring Meryl Streep tells the stories of Julia Child and a fledging writer.

DVDs of TV shows

We have five collections “Sharpe’s” programs starring Sean Bean from Masterpiece Theatre. “The World of Downton Abbey” is a behind-the-scenes look at the characters and actors from this blockbuster hit. “Longmire” contains the complete first season of this Western mystery series. “The Dukes of Hazzard” is a movie inspired by the TV series.


“Dirty Wars” by Jeremy Scahill takes readers inside America’s new covert wars. “Frozen in Time” by Mitchell Zuckoff is a true story of endurance and bravery in the vast Arctic wilderness in World War II — and today. “The Outsider” is a memoir by tennis star Jimmy Connors. “I’ll See You Again” is a memoir by Jackie Hance about her life after a horrific car accident took the lives of her three young daughters. “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” is a collection of essays by David Sedaris. “Ocean of Life” by conservation biologist Callum Roberts is a history of our relationship with the oceans and their creatures.

Mysteries and thrillers

“A Delicate Truth” by John Le Carre is about a counter-terrorist operation in Gibraltar. “Robert D. Parker’s Wonderful” by Ace Atkins is the latest in the Spenser mystery series. “Pirate Alley” by Stephen Coonts tells of a Somali pirate attack on a luxurious cruise ship. “Gotcha!” by Fern Michaels is the latest in the Sisterhood mystery series. “The Redeemer” by Jo Nesbo is the latest in the Harry Hole mystery series set in Oslo. “A Man without Breath” by Philip Kerr is the latest in the Bernie Gunther thriller series set in Berlin.

Large print westerns

“Guns in Wyoming” by Lauran Paine and “Hard Ride to Hell” by William W. and J.A. Johnstone are the latest in our ever-growing collection of large-print westerns for this genre’s many fans.

Thanks to our donors

For books and materials this week, we thank Peggy Cotton, Carla Evans, Boyd Kirkpatrick, Sheila Lane and Rita Sandler.


For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books, e-books, CDs and DVDs from the comfort of your home — please visit our website at http://pagosa.colibraries.org/.

This story was posted on June 27, 2013.