Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Remember those top scholars honored recently in The World-Herald, mainly for how well they did on nationally-standardized college admissions tests?

Well, a lot of the reason for why they are where they are probably has to do with spending time under a shade tree with a glass of lemonade during the summers of their childhood.

Doing what? Reading!

Children who get the most out of school are those who have read the most. It’s a key reason why year-round schooling is a bad idea: there goes a child’s free time to self-educate through self-selected library books, with a block of time in the summer to read them.

Here’s the general idea: children should concentrate on “absorption” in Grades 1-4 – reading as much as they can to take in as much knowledge and as many vocabulary words as they can, the building blocks of comprehension. From Grades 5-8, they can move to “critical thinking” – books that challenge them and feed their natural inclination to argue and evaluate. Then, in the high school years, they’ll want “expression” – books that express points of view, and help them learn to form and express their own.

Without this progression, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a youngster to “ace” school and those important standardized tests. And most of all, a self-directed education through outside reading is the best way to shape your own mind, instead of leaving that to the whims of educators whose values and interests might be vastly different than your own.

Wise parents make sure children use the summer months to build their vocabularies and knowledge bases the cheapest and best way of all: reading library books. And Nebraska’s public libraries have started another summer of reading incentives. Wise parents (and grandparents, and caregivers!) have their children enrolled.

This year’s program theme has to do with animals: “Paws, Claws, Scales and TALES!” The way it takes shape at the Elkhorn Public Library, for example, children sign up for the program, and take home a sheet with little clocks to color to keep track of your reading time. As soon as you’ve read for eight hours, read to others, or been read to, you can turn the sheet in, and choose a reward.

They include certificates for a free kid’s meal, swimming pool passes, Royals baseball tickets, skating rink passes, and other treats. Each week, there’s also a standard reward, such as a book bag, bookmark, and a summer-end medal or trophy.

To keep kids coming in all summer, Elkhorn has prepared a calendar of storytimes, a discussion group on The Chronicles of Narnia series, and special events for kids following the animal theme, including a raptor show, dog day and other offbeat activities.

For more on the summer reading programs going on across the state, see:


Also note this important event planned at the Norfolk Public Library:

12th Annual Literature Festival, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 29, Northeast Community College Lifelong Learning Center; contact Karen Drevo, kdrevo@ci.norfolk.ne.us

Also see
www.nebraskareadaloud.org and www.nebraskalibraries.org/golden/sower.htm

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