All Summer Long is now underway at the Des Moines Public Library! The library’s summer reading program gives children an incentive to continue reading throughout the summer with fun challenges and entertaining programs.
Ms. Janeé reads during a special "Sunshine Storytime" last summer.
The Summer Slide
When children leave the classroom for the summer, they have a tendency to run into what’s called the “summer slide,” or the loss of reading skills in the summer. Paige Knotts, the Youth Services Librarian at the North Side Library, says children can lose up to three months of reading skills over the summer if they don’t read. “During school, they’re reading and being read to everyday. They’re growing their reading and comprehension skills. Summer comes, and suddenly they lose their classroom setting and their teacher.”
All Summer Long gives families several reasons to come to the library and get into the habit of reading over the summer. Knotts says that by reading just 20 minutes a day during the summer, children can gain up to a month of reading skills. These skills help them with their overall academic achievement, including with comprehension, social skills, and even sequencing, which helps with math. “There are so many different elements of a story that help them with creativity and all fields of school.” With crafts, games, programs, and more, there’s something for everyone during All Summer Long at the library.
A group reads to a therapy dog during a "Furry Tales" session.
The All Summer Long Reading Challenge
The Reading Challenge is simple, and it’s for everyone from ages 0-18! Go to any Des Moines Public Library location to register. You’ll receive your reading log and a nice tote bag to haul around all the books you check out from the library this summer. For every 20 minutes that you read – or each Summer Learning Activity you complete – you can cross out a book. Once all 18 books are crossed out, turn your reading log back in, and you’ll get to pick a free book for completing the program. The best part about the program - it's all free!
You can also register and complete the program online. It works exactly the same way, though you will have to stop into your designated “home branch” to pick up your free tote bag upon registering and your free book upon completing the challenge.
“I always encourage older siblings to read to their younger siblings,” says Knotts. “That’s a really exciting way that they’re both getting their time together. We also have a program where you can come in and read to an animal therapy pet.” Even reading a cookbook and making a new recipe can count as time spent reading, adds Knotts.
Families take part in a petting zoo at the East Side Library last summer.
All Summer Long Programs
The library is always bustling with activity during the summer. Working with partners from across the state, there are captivating, family-friendly programs occurring every day. From Iowa State University to the Science Center of Iowa, the Blank Park Zoo to Jester Puppets, and more, there are dozens of programs each day for kids of all ages, and they are all free.
Knotts says the programs introduce all sorts of topics and activities to kids so they can find out what they enjoy. “The idea is that a child gets to explore something,” says Knotts. “Not just being told what to do, but they’re figuring out what to do on their own.” With crafts and games, “they’re considering problem solving, using design, using their mind to lay these things out. The library offers more time for them to figure out what they want to make and what they want to do.”
This summer, expect to see lots of space-themed programs as well. July will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and several events explore the deep wonder of space.
Programs happening at our branches this summer include:
- The ISU Insect Zoo
- Otherworldly Animal Adaptations with the Blank Park Zoo
- Girls Who Code
- Absolute Science
- Outer Space Odyssey with the Science Center of Iowa
- and more!
Teens and tweens start learn how to create their own graphic novels.
It can be challenging for parents to find the right books for reluctant readers. Knotts says that books like children’s graphic novels offer a great opportunity for kids to get absorbed in a book. “The combination of illustrations and storytelling boosts their confidence,” she says. “They can take context clues from the pictures to know what’s happening.” Series like Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are popular amongst children. Knotts says that when kids get to talk to each other about these characters, they discuss the story more and get more excited to read in general.
Creating slime at the South Side Library last summer.
Want to learn more about All Summer Long? Check out the All Summer Long page. You'll find upcoming and ongoing programs, youth calendars for each branch, and more. You'll also find the link to register online. Be sure to listen to the newest episode of the DMPL Podcast (embedded at the top of the page), where Knotts and host Aaron Gernes discuss the program further. We can't wait to see you All Summer Long at the library!