Blogger Meg Smith

Summertime Kids Brings Books to the Underserved

Outreach is a vital component of summer reading programs, but sometimes it can be a challenge for libraries to connect to busy day care groups in our communities. One way we have strengthened our partnership with local agencies serving youth is through our public library participation in the Summertime Kids program. Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center has received a $5000.00 grant from the Cumberland Community Foundation to participate in Summertime Kids.

What is Summertime Kids? Summertime Kids supports youth from low-income and underserved communities and provides opportunities for them to experience unique life lessons through enriched summer experiences.

Summertime Kids also supports children with various developmental and physical abilities. Summertime Kids partners with the Autism Society of Cumberland County-Camp Sunshine Summer Developmental Day Program to provide resources and support to young people living on the autism spectrum. Vision Resource Center – Out of Sight Camp supports children with visual impairments to experience theatre, outdoor activities, and opportunities for campers to connect with their peers.

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Public library staff will visit campers at individual camp sites to promote the public library’s summer reading program, to encourage children and teens to read during the summer months, and to share information about the various free public library programs and services available to campers. Camp locations provide varied experiences, including opportunities to participate in regional theatre, learn through field trips throughout our state, and develop outdoor survival skills.

How is our public library involved with the Summertime Kids initiative? Library staff will purchase book bags and books for children and teens to take home to add to their home libraries. Campers will receive engaging books to read to strengthen their literacy skills during the summer; it is expected the amount of time the campers read will have increased due to their participation in this program. Campers will also have an increased awareness and appreciation of public library services and programs and will learn the value of receiving a free public library card.

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Camp staff may schedule interactive literature-based programs provided by library staff. Library staff will communicate with individual campers to determine their reading habits and will provide book recommendations based on campers’ interests and abilities. Library staff will also encourage campers to visit the public libraries with their families to receive their free library card.

The public library served 1,015 campers in 2016 and estimates we’ll serve the same number of campers this summer. We are excited about this opportunity to provide free books and book bags to youth from underserved areas and to encourage public library participation! What programs or services do you hope to provide to your communities this summer? Please share in the comments below!

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