Book Buddies Beat the Summer Slide

Getting kids energized about reading in the summertime demands creativity. During the months when a cool, dark bedroom and the flickering screen of a PSP beckons sweetly, it’s hard enough getting kids to pick up a book, much less come to the Library. Here's how a few crafty children's librarians got kids enjoying activities centered on reading.

For an hour-and-a-half one day each week, even Club Penguin was no match for our ingenious Children’s and Youth Services Librarians at the Central Library. For the better part of June and July, librarians Clare Hollander, Nancy Stegeman and their team of volunteers had kids reading and talking about books during the dog days of the "summer slide."

To help keep kids’ skills sharp, the Book Buddies Reading Club paired every young reader with an adult volunteer to provide encouragement and guidance.

“If kids have a compassionate listener who can spend 10 to 15 minutes a day reading with them, their reading skills improve dramatically,” Hollander says.

Book Buddies

One of the activities included stocking a “Library Animal Shelter” with stuffed-animal dogs. Each pooch got its own kid-penned biography and adoption ad. It was a variation on the PAWS for Reading program, in which children read to a real dog every fourth Saturday at the Central Library (call 816-701-3441 to register).

The group also studied folktale traditions by comparing different variations of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and making puppets to act out the story.

“We just wanted to share our love of reading and get kids turned onto it in a group setting that’s different from school,” Hollander explains.

Last week, we visited Book Buddies during its final session for the summer. Inspired by the book-reviews segment of Reading Rainbow, Hollander asked the kids to plan out brief reviews of their favorite books and perform them on camera.

Working with Library volunteers Michael Wells and Janice Henry, the kids chose a book and spent about half an hour brainstorming before presenting their review. While some were a bit shy in front of the camera, others took to it like naturals.

One thing they all shared? A good time.

Click here for a Flickr slideshow.

Here are a few highlights from the video reel.

-- Jason Harper
Photos by Elise Del Vecchio