Senator O’Mara’s Weekly Column “From the Capitol” – for the week of June 20, 2022 – “Keep turning the page this summer”

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The bottom line is that summer reading is a lifesaver for kids. Our region is incredibly fortunate to have an outstanding network of public libraries providing access to books and other reading activities, materials and opportunities.

Senator O’Mara offers his weekly perspective on many key challenges and issues facing the Legislative Assembly, as well as legislative actions, local initiatives, state programs and policies, and more. Stop by every Monday for Senator O’Mara’s latest column…

This week, “Keep turning the page this summer”

Numbers help tell every story.

For example, numerous studies have helped show that children who read during the summer months make better academic progress in the following school year than children who do not.

In fact, the “summer slide” stats jump right off the page, including that:

> students can lose up to 25% of their reading level during the summer;

> children who do not engage in summer reading lose about two months of teaching time, or about 22% of the school year; and

> at the end of sixth grade, children who lose reading during the summer are on average two years behind their peers.

While the numbers alone help tell a larger story, the words themselves deliver the most powerful testimony of all.

SchoolThe ‘Kids & Family Reading Report’ has become one of the benchmarks for advocacy and research on the importance of summer reading.

The organization’s director of studies, Michael Haggen, said: “Parents, grandparents, older siblings, teachers, school principals – everyone in a child’s life – can be reading models. It’s up to all of us to give the opportunity to choose, to be readers ourselves, to ask and answer questions about what a child is reading, to read aloud together (regardless of age !), and more. When a child knows that the people around them enjoy reading, we will have a greater culture of literacy in our homes and in our schools.

The bottom line is that summer reading is a lifesaver for kids.

Therefore, I am grateful this summer to join the New York State Library and public libraries across the state, including so many in the South End and Finger Lakes areas, in as part of the “Summer Reading at New York Libraries” initiatives.

Scholastic also offers a summer reading program which you can learn more about at: www.scholastic.com/summer.

For my part, I am proud to share the Senate’s online summer reading program. To participate, students and parents can visit My Senate’s website, www.omara.nysenate.gov, and click on the “Summer Reading Program” logo on the home page.

At its most fundamental level, summarizing the range of research on the importance of summer reading for college students is simple: it’s about getting books into the hands of kids.

According Schoolsome of the keys to successful summer reading are letting young readers choose the books they want to read (91% of kids say they’re more likely to finish a book if they chose it themselves), to encourage children to read four or more books and, above all, easy access to books.

The underlying importance of access speaks directly to the essential role that our public libraries play in encouraging students and their families to read.

Libraries are the gateway to making books and other reading materials and programs available in our communities. Our region is incredibly fortunate to have an outstanding network of public libraries providing access to books and other reading activities, materials and opportunities.

Of course, our local libraries sponsor a variety of summer reading activities and events. Visit the Southern Tier Library System website, www.stls.org, for links to member libraries in Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, and Yates counties. Finger Lakes Library System members, including Seneca, Tioga, and Tompkins counties, are online at www.fls.org.

More than two million young people statewide participate in its summer reading program each year, according to the New York State Library. More information about “Summer Reading at New York Libraries” is online at www.nysl.nysed.gov.

There are many ways to help kids get the summer off to a great start and then continue to make the season meaningful and memorable.

A playlist is one of the best ways of all.

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