SIKESTON -- All young people experience learning losses when they don't engage in educational activities during the summer, says the Center for Summer Learning.
To provide learning opportunities for children to read, local libraries are gearing up to offer their summer reading programs.
"If they continue reading during the summer then they will retain their reading skills," said Ann Thompson, children's librarian at Sikeston Public Library.
Children can lose up to 50 percent of what they learned during the previous school year, Thompson said.
About 40 to 60 children attend Sikeston Public Library's summer reading program for children ages 2 to 18, which kicks off with a special program at 10 a.m. June 27.
Prizes will be awarded for children ages preschool through fifth grade who complete a reading log, Thompson said. Teenagers will have the opportunity to also win prizes, which include savings bonds, food restaurant coupons and YMCA swimming passes. Each session will include reading, activities and refreshments.
Mississippi County Library administrator Stephanie Bledsoe agreed summer reading programs give local children several opportunities.
"Obviously the programs help by helping their reading and skill levels, but they also can become familiar with how to use the library and see other resources and neat things we have here," Bledsoe said.
Most local libraries are members of the Missouri Library Association, which is involved in the National Collaborative Summer Library Program. The CSLP is a grassroots consortium of 36 state agencies and associations working together to provide summer reading program materials for children at a low cost.
This year's youth theme is "Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales" -- a concept that will integrate reading and learning about pets. The teen program's theme is "Creature Feature."
Mississippi County Library's reading program for children ages 3 to 12 beginning June 15.
Children who register for Mississippi County's reading program will receive a logbook to record titles of books they read this summer and will sign a contract with the librarian to decide how many books they plan to read. The library will offer a variety of programs, giveaways and contests all summer. Everyone who completes the program by finishing their contract will be invited to the final party with certificates and rewards for all.
"It's something that we've always had," Bledsoe said about the summer program. "But I really think in the last couple years, we've tried to step it up and push the program itself and think of new ideas."
One of the summer's bigger events will be on July 19, when the library will conduct a video conference with the St. Louis Zoo, Bledsoe said.
"This will allow us to read a story and we'll be able to watch as they bring animals represented in the story on-screen for the children," Bledsoe said. "Not only will those at the zoo get to ask questions, but our local children will get ask questions, too."
Bledsoe said she thinks the popularity of Mississippi County's summer reading program is definitely growing.
An increase in participation of New Madrid County Library's summer reading program is exactly what Jeanie Adams, facilitator of New Madrid County's summer reading program, would like to see.
"I don't know if they just don't know about it or what," Adams said, adding sessions average about eight to 10 children from each library. "We'd like to get the enrollment up. Summer school lasts through June. When they get out in July, they may go on vacation."
New Madrid County's reading program is from July 6 through Aug. 1. Adams visits libraries located throughout the county for one-hour sessions on different days of the week. Each session includes a story and some type of activity, Adams said. A drawing is also held for participants.
Some people just naturally lean toward reading than other kids, said Adams, who is a retired school teacher.
"Reading programs help to help fill in children's time proportionately, education-wise, for the summer," Adams said. "It helps keep their reading skills and their love for reading going."