LIBRARY TO THE RESCUE
by Lauren Boeke, Assistant Youth Services Coordinator and Mom
When my oldest child started elementary school, I was amazed at how much she learned during her kindergarten year. I was in awe as I watched her teacher guide an entire class of wiggly children through concepts that would serve them well for a lifetime. As the weather began to clear and the end of the school year neared, I remember feeling so excited for the summer fun that my child and I would share as we continued her learning adventure.
End of the year parties ensued, report cards were issued, and the teacher sent home packets of worksheets and instructions for avoiding the summer slide, a decrease in academic skills that can occur in children who may not read enough during summer vacation. I felt not only ready but also eager to take on this challenge with my budding scholar.
I was so sure we’d enjoy our summer of reviewing concepts and spending quality time together. However, I found that squeezing the activities into our hectic schedule was a daily challenge, and my daughter wasn’t as thrilled to sit down and work with me as I had dreamed she would be. It wasn’t long into the summer that I realized I was going to need help if I wanted to save my family’s summer.
Luckily, the Library was there for my family and helped us get back on track for fun and learning, instead of frustration and tears.
Visiting the Library became an air-conditioned parenting hug for me each week. I didn’t even need to dig out the sunhats! I also didn’t need to fear late fines, as the Library had eliminated them. The librarians would help my children find books about whatever subject captured their attention at that moment. One day it was fairies, the next day the solar system, and yet another day was all about hamsters. Then my children would spend time playing with other children in the Library, putting on their own puppet show, participating in Library art or science programs, or exploring kid-friendly resources on the computers. We loved visiting the different locations throughout the county, and regularly stopped while out and about on other errands to visit whatever Library branch was closest.
“It wasn’t long into the summer that I realized I was going to need help if I wanted to save my family’s summer.“
My next surprise that summer was that I didn’t even need to go to a building to enjoy the Library. Virtual storytimes gave me a moment to make lunch while my children enjoyed quality storytelling. Even when the Library was closed during the pandemic, Activities to Go kits kept my children more occupied than my newest Pinterest-worthy art activity. They still love whenever we pick up the newest kit. When my oldest wanted to become the household expert on sharks, I visited toledolibrary.org to request a book bundle full of shark books with just a couple of keyboard taps. My youngest still requests cookbook bundles and enjoys trying new recipes while I clean up behind her.
With my Library card and PIN, we were able to access dozens upon dozens of resources to fill up a rainy day such as printable Scholastic Teachables activity sheets, National Geographic Magazine digital versions, and free streaming music for dance parties. We checked out Launchpads and hot spots which allowed us to enjoy our road trips together, and we downloaded audiobooks that helped me regret a little less that we don’t have a DVD player in our car.
Summer Read also helped make reading fun. Instead of me reminding them to read, my children were excited to fill in their reading tracker each time they read and were excited by the rewards along the way and the chance to win grand prizes.
When I was knee-deep in chores, Wonderbooks kept them working on their reading lists until I was more available to sit with them. The newest Reading Challenges have also reinvigorated our at-home reading by offering challenges for all ages. I have enjoyed reading the 101 Picture Books titles with my 6-year-old, while my 10-year-old is working her way through the 8 Aloud reading challenge. She still enjoys snuggling up with us each night to enjoy a picture book with her little sister. I don’t think that you can ever really outgrow the love of being read to by a parent, as the 101 Picture Book Challenge has taught me.
“Visiting the Library became an air-conditioned parenting hug for me each week.“
The weather is growing warmer, and the summer slide is back on my mind. The packets will soon come home from my children’s heroic teachers this year. I’m not at all worried, though. The Library is here for me. They are here for your family, too. Come share your summer with us at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Download the Summer Read tracker and an activity tracker so you can begin your summer tracker right away. Peace, Love, Library.
While playground slides are fun, the academic Summer Slide is anything but fun. Summer Slide refers to the loss of academic learning that students can experience during summer break when they are away from structured classroom learning.