YALSA President responds to Time’s “The Case Against Summer Vacation”

For Immediate Release
Thu, 08/12/2010


Stephanie Kuenn

CHICAGO — Kim Patton, president of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association, delivered a statement to Time in response to its article, “The Case Against Summer Vacation,” which appeared in the Aug. 2 issue.

“In 'The Case Against Summer Vacation,' author David Von Drehle brings to light some serious concerns about student learning losses that can occur during a long summer break. While it will likely be up to decision makers at the federal and state levels to decide how best to deal with this issue in the long term, I think it’s important to point out a key existing resource in battling the summer slide that Von Drehle overlooked: libraries.

“At thousands of libraries across the United States, reading materials and enrichment activities designed for children, teens and their families are available year round. Additionally, most public libraries implement summer reading programs, many of which provide activities during the day, exactly when Von Drehle notes that school-aged children are facing 'boredom, inactivity, and isolation.' These libraries provide a wealth of reading resources as well as a staff of trained professionals to engage children and teens in activities and in reading programs that effectively fight summer learning loss.

“And research backs this up. This June, Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science published a study funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services called ‘Public Library Summer Reading Programs Close the Reading Gap.’ The study collected data from 11 sites across the United States and found that students who participated in library summer reading programs scored higher on reading achievement tests than those who did not and came back to school ready to learn, with improved reading comprehension skills and more confidence, in addition to their improved test scores.

“As a nation, we need to create solutions for summer learning loss and provide children and teens from all backgrounds and regions with engaging learning opportunities and a wealth of reading materials. It makes sense to invest in an effort that has already been successful in doing that: library summer reading programs.”

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audio books for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail, yalsa@ala.org.